Bruno Senna will partner Pastor Maldonado at Williams in 2012.
The announcement brings to a close one of the most drawn-out stories of recent years—and could mark the end of Rubens Barrichello's F1 career.
In a statement on their website, the team said:
Williams F1 today confirmed that Bruno Senna will contest the 2012 FIA Formula One World Championship for the Williams F1 Team. The appointment finalises the team’s line up for this year following confirmation in December that Pastor Maldonado will enter his second season in Formula One as a Williams race driver. Bruno will make his debut with the Williams F1 Team in Jerez on 9th February at the first of the winter tests.
Senna undoubtedly earned his place with a little help from his sponsors, but his ability and potential had also impressed Frank Williams, the team's owner, who said:
The circumstances of Bruno’s two seasons in Formula One have not given him an ideal opportunity to deliver consistently so it was essential that we spent as much time with him as possible to understand and evaluate him as a driver. We have done this both on track and in our simulator and he has proven quick, technically insightful and above all capable of learning and applying his learning quickly and consistently. Now we are looking forward to seeing that talent in our race car.
But while one Brazilian is celebrating, another is left to consider his future.
2011 Williams driver Barrichello, veteran of a record 322 Grand Prix starts, finds himself without a seat in the sport for the first time in 19 years.
Rubens wrote on Twitter:
twitter friends..I won't be driving the Williams car this year.I wish my friend @BSenna all the best..the future is wide open
Barrichello is not the force he once was, and it seems unlikely he will ever race in F1 again. But at the age of 39, he will be able to look back on a truly staggering career—the length of which may never be equalled.
Senna's arrival at Williams was widely expected, and leaves just a single seat—that at HRT—still up for grabs. The winner of that particular race will no doubt be announced in the coming days.
To fans of the sport, this is more than just a driver signing to a team—the names "Senna" and "Williams" will forever be linked by the most tragic of circumstances.
Three-time world champion Ayrton—uncle to Bruno, mentor and friend to Rubens—was killed at the wheel of a Williams at Imola during the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.
To this day, all Williams cars carry an "S" symbol on the bodywork as a tribute to the man many consider the greatest driver of all time. Bruno's arrival continues the family story.