That last name Senna bears a lot of weight. It's a lot for one man to bear and sometimes seems like a name so heavy, that a whole nation can't hold it up. Brazil has few national heroes, and one of them died at the peak of his career. It was, to say the least, shocking.
Ayrton Senna was one of the icons of the 20th century, at least in motorsports. He was so influential, that even more than a decade and a half after his death, his impact is still being felt every day in Formula One and the world around it.
We've heard enough eulogies, tributes, and dirges on the topic of Ayrton Senna and how he, as the cliche goes, "left us too soon."
Now there is a second generation of Senna in Formula One, Bruno Senna, who now has a lot of weight on his shoulders. To make it even worse, Senna hasn't shyed away from the family legacy. He fully embraces it and seemingly does evocative, and reminiscent things to remind people of his nearly deified uncle.
No fault of his own—that face, demeanor, and attitude is too Senna-esque to be ignored. He always seems so cool and collected, not flustered by anything. Like the statement earlier in the week, where he claimed that HRT will be faster than Virgin and Lotus only because of the data that Dallara has acquired in running in the GP2 Series.
Quiet confidence is a trait common to many high-level athletes, but when it comes from the mouth of a Senna, it adds an entire other dimension.
More evidence that Bruno has not shied away from his uncle's legacy is by wearing that iconic and very evocative yellow, green, and blue helmet, almost symbolizing to people that he is willing to take over where Ayrton left off.
In this article published today, Senna said he thought of not using his uncle's last name, but decided against it. As the Brazilian rookie said regarding the surname, "I thought it was best to just go for it and take the pressure head on."
Ayrton Senna was the "King of Monaco," winning five Grand Prix in the principality. Bruno Senna won the feature race of the 2008 GP2 Monaco rounds. In a style unlike his uncle's, he didn't set the pole position, and instead, took the lead at the start. While Senna only beat Pastor Maldonado by more than half a second, the Brazilian and Venezuelan beat the rest of the field by almost 45 seconds.
Senna finished second for the GP2 Series title in 2008, won two races, and collected three pole positions during that campaign, once again mimicking his uncle's skill for qualifying.
Bruno Senna has the weight of the legacy on his shoulder. We fans know, the media knows, the other drivers know, and most importantly, the man himself does too. Though the HRT car is literally untested and unproven, 2010 will be a positive season for Senna. It will allow for him to get comfortable in Formula One, while avoiding unrealistic expectations.