Bruno_senna

Bruno Senna

Ex-Formula One driver and GP2 race winner

With one of the most famous surnames in motor sport, Bruno Senna has established himself as a world-class driver in his own right. The nephew of three-time Formula One World Champion Ayrton Senna, the Brazilian has competed in and won races across the world.

Senna began pursuing his racing career in Europe, starting in Formula BMW and soon moving into British Formula Three. He stepped up to GP2 in 2007, the feeder series to Formula One. Two successful seasons followed, the highlights being a win in Monaco and finishing second overall in the 2008 championship.

He made the move into Formula One in 2010, racing with the short-lived Hispania Racing team before moving on to stints with Renault and Williams, competing in 46 Grands Prix overall. He then switched to sportscar racing with Aston Martin, enjoying a number of victories.

Senna was recently announced as a driver for the Mahindra Racing team in the newly established Formula E championship, alongside his friend and former ‘Ask A Pro’, Karun Chandhok.

Ex-Formula One driver Bruno Senna is the latest ‘Pro’ to answer your questions as an Online Instructor. Check back soon for his answers.

Bruno Senna answers your questions!

  1. As a racing driver fitness and diet is key but how do I know what is enough to eat and the right foods? What's a typical race day menu for you? - Morgan Jones
    • Bruno_senna
    • Hi Morgan. Food is so important in a racing driver’s life. To keep fit, you need to eat well and do lots of training as you know but you also have to find out the foods that agree with your stomach when you’re under stress. I’m a bit peculiar as I have intolerances to rice and eggs, so I can’t eat those around a race weekend but rice and pasta are great sources of carbs to eat before a race, together with either, grilled fish, chicken, turkey and vegetables as you like them cooked. Don’t forget your hydration is at least as important as the food, so drink lots of water or drinks with electrolytes when the day is very hot and you sweat a lot.

      SAFEisFAST.com Video: Nutrition: Fuelling the Driver
  2. If you have done a few years of karting in the Americas and are looking to pursue an open wheel career in Europe, where would you even start? What's the first step? Besides gaining sponsors of course. And who are the people you should get in contact with? - Daniel Justice
    • Bruno_senna
    • Hi Daniel. When racing in Europe it’s very important to choose the championship that will give you the best experience-to-exposure rate. Currently there are a number of Formula Renault 2.0 championships around Europe that could be a good stepping stone into European racing and they could give you a chance to experience the level of competition, learn the tracks and find your way up from there as results come! Best strategy is to look at the championships you’re interested in, look up the teams that are doing well in those championships and find their contact details online to get in touch and see how much it costs and what the options are! Good luck!

      SAFEisFAST.com Video: Racing in Europe
  3. Is it important to you to have loyal fans that support you through the highs and the lows? - Yoann Moisseron
    • Bruno_senna
    • Hi Yoann. The fans are the ones who make professional sports possible, so it’s always a pleasure to have them giving you support when you have a good one and understanding when things don’t quite go to plan! Always great to see the grandstands full on a race circuit, as it creates an amazing atmosphere!
  4. Hi Bruno! Thank you for taking time to answer questions for us! As someone just starting to race, I was wondering if you could share any specific ways you like your car setup and why? - Matt
    • Bruno_senna
    • Hi Matt. Car setup is a very personal thing for the driver because each person feels the car in a very different manner. For instance, for me it’s very important for the car to give me feel through the steering wheel. If the steering wheel is too light or has no feedback, it takes much longer for me to get comfortable with the reactions of the car. In general, though, I like the car with a positive front-end and stable corner-entry balance, as I very rarely drive the car over the slip angle of the front tyres as some other drivers like to do.

      SAFEisFAST.com Video: Basic Chassis Set Up
  5. Hello Bruno! I am 15 years old and really want to start racing, but the cost to attend my local racing school to get my license is too much for me to afford now. Should I try to start racing now or can I wait until I am older and it is more affordable? - Jonathan Bersier
    • Bruno_senna
    • Hi Jonathan. It really depends very much on where you want to end up. If your dream is Formula One, it’s important to start as early as possible. Normally, kids start when they’re around 10 years old and make it into F1. For other championships like endurance racing and all sort of non-pro racing there’s no age limit to start. I know everyone aims at F1 initially, but there is lots of life in racing outside of F1 and it can be very rewarding too!
  6. Hello Bruno. I've been debating with myself as to whether or not I want to pursue a career in motor sports as a racing driver, and I'm hesitant because of the business side of racing. Do you find yourself behind the wheel as often as you would like or do you spend more time working on business-related activities (promotional events, meetings) instead of driving? Thank you! - Hudson Brown
    • Bruno_senna
    • Hi Hudson. Motor racing can be what you make it, in a certain way. If you become a professional driver, you end up travelling a lot and doing much more sponsor/business/pr work than actual time in the car. On the other hand, the less professional the level of racing you do, the non-driving activities become less and you can have more fun driving. Nowadays it’s very difficult to find a championship where you practice a lot as the costs are too high to run a race car constantly, though.

      SAFEisFAST.com Video: Working with the Media
  7. How different is a Formula E car to a Formula One car? - Ali
    • Bruno_senna
    • Hi Ali. Even though they’re both single-seater cars, the Formula E and F1 cars are fundamentally different. Starting from the wheels and tyres: 13” inch wheels and slick/intermediate/wet tyres in F1 and 18” wheels and one-tyre-fits-all-conditions in Formula E. Then, the Formula E car is fully powered by an electric motor that generates around 270bhp with a big battery and a 5-speed gearbox, whereas the F1 has a turbo ICE engine with an electric motor attached to it, driving an 8 speed gearbox. The aerodynamics are much more complex in an F1 car, so the Formula E car can race pretty close, comparatively. Lastly, Formula E pitstops will see drivers changing cars, rather than mechanics changing tyres during a F1 pitstop.
  8. If it were possible, would you like another opportunity in Formula One? - Hiro Wada
    • Bruno_senna
    • Hi Hiro. I think no one can say no to a good opportunity in F1. For me, F1 has always been a dream and I was lucky enough to make part of that dream come true, but the reason why I race is winning and being competitive, so I need to be in a competitive car to enjoy it. At the moment, I am competitive in everything I do and if a good car was offered to me in F1, I wouldn’t say no.
  9. What was the worst experience in your racing career? - Celis Fabricia
    • Bruno_senna
    • Hi Celis. My worst experience in motor racing was hitting a dog during a GP2 race in 2008. Not only was it very shocking to hit it at over 280km/h, but also the image of the dog in front of me will never leave my mind.
  10. I want to improve my qualifying. Where should I start to try to shave tenths off my lap time? - Michael Martin
    • Bruno_senna
    • Hi Michael. Qualifying is one of the most exciting parts of motor racing and when it goes well, it’s an amazing feeling. To get the most out of a qualifying lap and considering you’re comfortable with how your car is handling, the first thing you have to do is understand the tyre warm-up procedure. Getting your tyres up to temperature evenly so that they’re ready for the flying lap is very important, and that depends on the work you do with tyre pressures and how you work them during the warm-up laps. A good way to warm tyres up is to accelerate and brake hard as that builds temperatures on the surfaces of the tyres as well as the inside of the wheels from the brake disks. Other than that, focus is very important during qualifying. Try to keep your mind clear of everything else, apart from the work ahead and let it go away when you’re driving to just feel it and get “in the zone”. Good luck!

      SAFEisFAST.com Video: The Mental Edge
  11. If you could choose any city to add to the Formula E calendar, which one would you choose and why? - Cathy Coignet
    • Bruno_senna
    • Hi Cathy. I think I'd choose Rio or Sao Paulo first as I'd love to race Formula E at home but a race in Sydney or Dubai could be very cool as well.
  12. With Formula E racing over one day, how do you plan on learning the circuits as quickly as possible? - Romain Buttez
    • Bruno_senna
    • Hi Romain. We will need to do Driver-In-Loop simulator work before each race weekend as there's very little time to learn the tracks and street circuits are normally harder to learn than normal ones because the visibility and grip levels are much lower.

  13. You recently raced in the Mille Miglia, how was this experience? - Ademir Junior
    • Bruno_senna
    • The Mille Miglia was definitely a very unique experience. On the one hand, I saw some of the most amazing places and sceneries of my life, enjoyed the company of great people and drove a great car. On the other hand, I don't think I've ever felt so tired and spent in my life. The rally is very demanding, hours are long, you get little sleep and that lovely D-Type Jaguar was roasting hot inside. I can't wait do it again though.
  14. What would it mean to you to win the Formula E title? - Rod Atkinson
    • Bruno_senna
    • Hi Rod. Winning Formula E would be great for a number of reasons. Firstly, it would be my first championship win in motor racing, even though I've come close a few times. Secondly, Formula E is another step in motor racing history, leading the way into making racing more sustainable and relevant to our current world situation. Thirdly, I love winning!

  15. Who is the better driver, you or Karun Chandhok? - David C
    • Bruno_senna
    • Hi David. I don't know if you will think I'm being biased but I am going to say I'm the faster one. Karun is a great driver though and he is going to give me a run for my money so I can't slip up or be complacent. We have got to work hard together and fight hard on the track.
  16. Hello Bruno! Being a professional racing driver requires not only a lot of physical training and testing, but also travel. What is the best way to deal with things like jet-lag and how do you keep yourself alert and ready for each race? - Senna Pankopf
    • Bruno_senna
    • Hi Senna. Nice name. Jet-lag can be a big problem to frequent travellers. People tend to cope with it differently, but I tend to make sure to get in a gentle training session (swim, run or bike) when I arrive at a place with a different time zone. Other than that, trying to eat light foods and not sleeping during the middle of the day are key to the shortest adaptation period possible.

      SAFEisFAST.com Video: Driver Fitness: Workout Overview
  17. As a Formula E racer, do you intend to buy an electric car in the future? - Romain Buttez
    • Bruno_senna
    • Hi Romain, that is a good question. I can see many new electric sportscars popping up around and would love to own one, when they’re developed!
  18. How do you think strategy will vary in Formula E to other series you have competed in? - Callum
    • Bruno_senna
    • Hi Callum. Formula E races will be won and lost by strategy and clever decisions. It’s more important than ever to have the best energy efficiency to laptime ratio. This involves different driving styles on each track and lots of work on the car setup to allow for some confidence while driving a car that recovers lots of energy only from its rear-axle, through the electric motor.
  19. Did you have any reservations about racing in Formula E? - Hollie
    • Bruno_senna
    • Hi Hollie. Every new championship is an adventure that can be successful or not. Formula E is an amazing achievement already as the cars are reliable and the structure of the championship is very well organised. Racing only on street tracks always offer higher risk of injuries but that’s part of racing and I really enjoy those street tracks.
  20. Hey Bruno! I have been struggling for the past 2/3 years to acquire sponsorships to go out and race. Contact with teams and interest from racing teams isn't a problem as I have been offered to race in F3 before, but I just don't have the funds to compete. What advice would you give to young racing drivers struggling to acquire sponsorship to go out and race? Best of luck in Formula E!! - Neal Venter
    • Bruno_senna
    • Hi Neal. Finding funds to race in Europe is always tough, especially if you’re a foreigner. Normally it’s less difficult to race in your own country as the sponsors get more local brand exposure (except for F1, of course). A few countries, such as Brazil and the US have sports sponsorship policies where sponsors can deduct some of their taxes if they’re supporting their local talent, so maybe you could look into something like this. Best of luck!

      SAFEisFAST.com Video: Sponsorship Overview
  21. I am racing karts in America and going to race karts in Europe next year. What should I expect and how should I prepare for Europe to be as competitive as possible? - Myles Rowe
    • Bruno_senna
    • Hi Myles. Karting in Europe is extremely competitive and a fair bit more political than in America. It's very important to find the right team with the best equipment to be racing at.

      SAFEisFAST.com Video: Racing in Europe
  22. Do you play any racing games to prepare for races? - Greg
    • Bruno_senna
    • Hi Greg. I did learn quite a few tracks with the racing games and did lots of simulator work during F1, so racing games definitely are something I enjoy. For actual race preparation, only professional simulators can really help a driver but for learning about circuits and getting a feel for how fast a car is, racing games can be very realistic nowadays.

  23. What is your favourite race you have ever competed in and why? - Ademir Junior
    • Bruno_senna
    • Hi Ademir. My favourite race was GP2 in Monaco 2008. I was in a good groove with the car and team, the competition was very strong that year and it was a very tough but rewarding race. Monaco was the only race where I really remembered Ayrton on the podium, so being on the top step of that gave me a great feeling.
  24. Hello Bruno! What kind of innovation from Formula E cars do you believe we will soon see in road cars? - Celis Fabricia
    • Bruno_senna
    • Hi Celis. I believe that the first thing that road cars could adopt from Formula E in the future would be battery technology as the race for better batteries and powertrains will be very fierce between the teams in the next few years. Let's hope it's soon!
  25. Thank you for answering questions. My 9 year old is pursuing his dream of being a professional driver. What path did you take in your early years and what was the most valuable part of those years that feeds your racing today? - C.E. Ruehl
    • Bruno_senna
    • I had a very disrupted career as I stopped racing between 10 and 20 years old, so definitely not the most traditional way. Regardless of that, the best way for a driver to have a real chance in racing is for he or she to go through the steps in a structured manner. Spend a few years in Karting, search for the most competitive championships to learn race craft. Then move on to junior single-seater series or GT cars. Always aim for the highest level you can find or afford as this will always give you an indication of how competitive the driver can be and how far he can make it. The most important advice however is to be able to dream but not exclude other options outside of Formula One as there are plenty of great championships to race in.