Williams adds Senna to 2012 F1 driver lineup

The Williams Formula One team revealed on Tuesday that Brazilian driver Bruno Senna has joined the lineup for the 2012 season.

Senna, the nephew of the late three-time F1 world champion Ayrton Senna, replaced fellow countryman Rubens Barrichello, who drove for Williams in 2010 and '11.

The 28-year-old Senna will pair with Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado, who was retained by Williams for the upcoming season last month.

"I feel very privileged that Williams has selected me as one of their race drivers," Senna said in a team statement. "The team has a great heritage, and I hope I can help write a good chapter in their history. The evaluation process has been intense and methodical, but the time I have spent in the factory has demonstrated that the team has great people and all the resources needed to achieve better things this season."

Senna drove for the Spanish team HRT during his 2010 F1 rookie season. He then joined Renault as its reserve driver prior to the start of last year's campaign. Last August, Senna replaced Nick Heidfeld at Renault for the remainder of the season.

Prior to his F1 career, Senna competed in British Formula Three, the GP2 Series and the Le Mans Series. He finished a close second in GP2 points in 2008.

"Bruno only started racing when he was 20 years old, but quickly proved his talent in F3 and GP2," team principal Frank Williams said. "In a tightly fought 2008 GP2 season, Bruno finished second in the championship with notable victories in Monaco and Silverstone, the latter in the wet. 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."

Ayrton Senna, one of the most accomplished drivers in F1 history, left McLaren and joined Williams for the 1994 season. In just his third race with Williams, Senna was killed in an accident during the San Marino Grand Prix in Italy.

"It will be very interesting to drive for a team that my uncle has driven for, particularly as quite a few of the people here actually worked with Ayrton," Bruno Senna added.

Senna will make his debut with Williams on February 9 during the winter test session in Jerez, Spain. The 2012 F1 season begins on March 18 in Melbourne, Australia.