Our series on Monaco’s Brazilian community
crosses the finish line with racing car driver Bruno Senna
ML: You were born in San Paulo, Brazil. Can you talk about your childhood memories and what is was like to have racing legend Ayrton Senna in your family?
BS: My childhood was a lot of fun. I have two sisters, one older and one younger than me, and we were always very close. We used to go a lot to our family’s farm during weekends and to the beach house for summer holidays. As a child, it was hard to grasp just how important Ayrton was. We always had a great time when he was in Brazil and really this is what I cared about.
ML: When do you remember wanting to become a race car driver or was there anything else you considered as a profession?
BS: I got my racing desires very early, and was driving go-karts from the age of 5. After Ayrton passed away and I could no longer race, my plan was to have a career that would let me keep motor racing as a hobby, so, while I was at university, I went to work in my family’s businesses to get some experience in a variety of fields. In fact, I started racing again while I was at uni and ended-up leaving Brazil to concentrate on it. My biggest goal as a racing driver is to win world championships and Le Mans, but it’s important to take it step-by-step.
ML: What does it mean for you to be Brazilian?
BS: I think that every Brazilian is proud to be Brazilian. We have our issues as a nation, but we do thrive against the odds in so many situations. People are very friendly and welcoming and most people that go to Brazil really love the country. We are definitely struggling with political and economic issues at the moment, and the Rio Olympics is a big expense when those resources could be used for the basic infrastructure we so badly need. So, since the investment has been made, I hope we can do a good job and the athletes get the event they deserve.
ML: How did you end up living in Monaco and do you miss anything from home?
BS: I lived in London while I was doing all the base championships and when I moved to F1 in 2010 I had the opportunity to come to Monaco. Monaco is a very attractive place for me, the weather is fantastic, the temperatures are good for most of the year, and being near the sea makes me feel more at home. For fitness training, it’s absolutely perfect as I can go cycling or running along the coast or in the mountains, and go swimming in the sea. I spoke a little bit of French before coming to Monaco and I had lots of friends living here, so it wasn’t that hard to settle. What I miss most about Brazil, apart from my friends and family, is the food – like Pão de Queijo and Churrasco, and Guarana is the only soft drink that I drink every once in a while – I have even found a little shop in Beausoleil that sells it. For the most part, though, I’m very settled into the European lifestyle.
ML: At the Historic Grand Prix in May, there were strong comments made about how today’s F1 drivers do not share the camaraderie and friendship of your uncle’s generation, that because of the technology involved with the cars, teams are much more secretive and private. Would you agree with this?
BS: F1 is a very competitive environment and it’s a fact that drivers aren’t as close as they were in the golden ages. The championships I’ve been competing in since F1 have been much nicer between teams and drivers and I really enjoy it.
ML: There’s a great debate about Formula 1 vs Formula E, as far as the thrill and excitement for spectators and securing sponsors. As you have driven for both series, do you see the future of auto-racing using clean technology reaching the same following as Formula 1?
BS: I currently drive for McLaren GT in some races at the Blancpain Endurance series, as well as LMP2 in WEC with RGR Sport and I did 2 seasons of Formula E with Mahindra Racing, so very busy times. The Formula E car is a very different animal to drive and to race, when compared to normal combustion engine cars. The race is very strategic and close, so quite a lot of fun and I do believe that in a few years we’ll see the technology developing quickly and cars will be faster and ever closer to normal combustion cars. It’s hard to say how far Formula E will go, as it’s pushing some serious boundaries. I love the premise of the championship; the following is growing steadily and hope it will continue growing bigger and bigger.
ML: I read that you were very close with your uncle and that he used to take you to the São Paulo’s go-kart tracks when you were five years old. What’s the best piece of advice your uncle ever gave you?
BS: Ayrton and I used to race at my family’s farm where we had a small go-kart track when I was a kid. He could only be there a few times per year as he was always travelling around the world with F1, but we had good times and most things he taught me were by experience, rather than telling me. He was a good teacher and I learned a lot about machines and, like everyone else that knows him, life values.
ML: Tell us about the Instituto Ayrton Senna (IAS). How are you involved?
BS: The Instituto Ayrton Senna is a foundation that focuses on education for under-privileged children and teenagers all around Brazil. It was created by my mother Viviane back in 1995 following a conversation she had with Ayrton before he passed away, when he recognised how lucky he was to have had the opportunities in life to achieve everything he did. So the IAS partners with local governments and companies all around Brazil to improve and restructure the school systems and to give children the education they deserve. As I can’t be involved on a daily basis, I’m an Ambassador and try to develop awareness for it, and to involve companies and people to help widen its scope.
ML: What’s your favourite toy at the moment?
BS: Racing quadcopters that I’ve been building for the last year or so. I really enjoy flying them through small spaces and in fast, close proximity with a first-person-view system that feels like you’re flying inside of it.
For more on Bruno Senna, see brunosenna.com.br/en
Article first published August 23, 2016.
READ MORE ABOUT MONACO’S BRAZILIAN COMMUNITY
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Luciana de Montigny, President and Founder of the Brasil Monaco Project
Severiano Alves-Pereira, Executive Director J. Safra Sarasin Bank
Tereza Mahot, NavigatorsYachtClub.com
Marcos Marin, Internationally acclaimed artist
Vagner Love, striker AS Monaco