Rising from tragedy, one of motorsport's greatest names.. Senna is back

Oliver Holt 12/03/2008

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For a long time after the accident, Bruno Senna suspended his dream of becoming a racing driver.
His mother, Viviana, hated the idea of her 10-year-old son immersing himself in the sport that killed her brother, the great Ayrton Senna.
"I kept quiet out of respect really," Bruno said. "I didn't say anything. But after seven or eight years, it was really starting to bug me. So then I had a conversation with my mother."
Now, on the eve of the 2008 Formula One season which starts here in Melbourne on Sunday, Bruno Senna stands on the brink of bringing one of the greatest names in the sport back into grand prix racing.
This year, he will start his second season in GP2, the feeder series for F1, with high hopes of winning the championship with top team iSport and securing a grand prix seat in 2009.
As well as the surname, Bruno's got plenty going for him. Charming, dashing, bright and quick, he's a superstar waiting to happen.
After Graham and Damon Hill, Gilles and Jacques Villeneuve and Michael and Ralf Schumacher, F1 is preparing to embrace the most glamorous family dynasty of all.
The kid's interest in racing and speed had been building nicely until his uncle was killed at the Tamburello corner during the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola on May 1, 1994.
Bruno and the man many still regard as the greatest, most charismatic racer who ever lived had developed a jocular rivalry on the kart track and on jet skis.
The three-time world champion loaded his nephew's kart with ballast when they raced on local tracks in Brazil. "He was very competitive with me," Bruno said.
And when they competed on jet skis, Ayrton would tweak the carburettor on his own machine to give him an advantage. "If the ocean was calm and it was a nice, flat day," Bruno recalled, "I could still beat him."
It was clear that Senna sensed Bruno's potential. "If you think I'm good, you should see my nephew," he told reporters a few months before he died.
More than half a million people packed the streets of Sao Paulo for Senna's funeral.
But Bruno did not go. His family thought him too young. "After the accident, I lost support from my family about pursuing a career in racing," Bruno said. "They felt the danger was too high.
"I thought maybe I would do something else. But as I grew older, I started seeing some of the guys that I once raced against doing well.
"I thought that I had beaten those guys and now I was just sitting doing nothing. It started to bother me so I spoke to my mother.
"She thought it was a boyracer thing because I had just got a road car. So she let me go and get a go-kart and see what happened.
"I spent a year breaking my ribs. I'd do 120 laps in a day and then crash it and break my ribs. Then I had to wait for a month for the ribs to heal and then it would happen again.
So she realised I was serious about doing it and I was wasting my time on go-karts.
At the start of 2004, she said I should test a race car."
His connections have helped. His uncle's best mate in racing, Gerhard Berger, fixed up a couple of early tests for him. And F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone's a fan, too.
All he has to overcome now is the small matter of being compared with the most mysterious driver who ever got behind the wheel.
"I truly believe I am going to be competitive in Formula One," Bruno said. "I don't care if people look at me and think I'm Ayrton's nephew.
"I'm a racing driver and I've loved doing it since I was very young. If people want to think of me as being under Ayrton's shadow, I don't care.
"If I get my success, I will be respected for whatever I do."
Those of us who were at Imola all those years ago still remember the crushing sense that something great had come to an end on that cursed F1 weekend.
Now, with the emergence of Bruno Senna, perhaps there might be a second chapter to fasten on to.
"What I'm doing now," Bruno said, "is my own story."