Bruno Senna insists that his capture of a Williams seat for 2012 was not just down to sponsorship, after revealing the exhaustive tests he was put through to show he was good enough for the drive.
The Brazilian is bringing welcome backing from a number of sponsors, including long-time supporter Embratel, to a Williams team that is recovering from its worst-ever season in F1. Although it was no secret that Williams had financial considerations to make, Senna was put through challenging simulator, fitness and track tests to ensure he was good enough to join the former champions.
When asked at his signing announcement if he felt the tests had proven that his signing was not just because of his sponsors, Senna said: "I am sure about that. They have been putting us through the paces with all sorts of testing, and they did not even talk about the sponsorship at the start – they wanted to assess me before anything else.
"The only way they would give me the chance was if they were comfortable with my performance. We did several tests and with that I am confident I can deliver."
As well as being evaluated on the Williams simulator, Senna worked with famous racing instructor Rob Wilson to further run through his capabilities.
"We did a few days with Rob, and a few simulator days, and all of these have been essential for the team's confidence. They put me through the paces and it was quite interesting to learn a few things.
"I've been with Rob before for a bit when I came to England, but after so many years of racing, being with him again was much different and much more productive."
Williams chief operations engineer Mark Gillan said that the team was adamant that it would go for the best driver it could, rather than the one offering the highest money.
"From our side, we had an extensive driver evaluation program with a handful of drivers, and we made the final decision based on raw pace, consistency, tire management, technical feedback and mental capacity – and, most importantly, the potential impact they would have on the team," he said. "I think in all those areas it was very clear that Bruno has not had a lot of experience in single-seater racing, but has consistently shown improvement and real talent.
"From our side, on the operations side, we are looking forward to working with him in what is an extremely important year for Williams regarding the relative poor season we had last season."
Gillan confirmed that Adrian Sutil had been on the short list of candidates for the drive, but in the end it was decided not to pursue a tie-up with him.
"I don't want to specifically talk about individual drivers, but Adrian was in our plans. However, based on everything that was laid out, Bruno for me and the team was the best way forward."