When it comes to drivers who make you feel like they have all the time in the world for you, they honestly come no better than Bruno Senna…
Now I asked your teammate this question but he wanted me to deflect it on to you. Mahindra are such a popular team with the fans and everyone would like to see them have a much stronger year. Can you tell us what the team struggled to get right last year and what they’ve learnt to hopefully see you fighting much further up the grid this year?
You know, Formula E is a very tough racing series. I think as a team we didn’t achieve what we needed to achieve in terms of development, especially early on in the season. Some people got more out of their car and more knowledge out of their car than we did and we paid for it… so that’s how it goes in motor racing and of course Formula E was no different.
But of course you finished the season strongly last year with a fantastic 4th place in Battersea Park. The battle you had with Sebastien Buemi was one of the highlights of the season. Can you just reflect back on that race for us?…
It was a tough race!… tough weekend! We were going to finish again in the top five for the first London race but we got a penalty for speeding in the pitlane which was quite a shame considering that we didn’t really speed in the pitlane; we just crossed the line a bit fast but slowed down right after. Anyways it is what it is, it was a big points loss, but we were looking ok in terms of performance and I think it was nice to finish on the best result of the season. But you know the race itself was quite tough. I knew when I saw that he [Buemi] was really attacking me, I realised that something must have been going on with the championship, but I was doing my own race and if he was behind me it was only his own fault anyway so too bad.
So you’ve got a new team mate this season in Nick Heidfeld, who obviously you know from Formula 1 and from racing against him last year… what are your thoughts on having ‘Quick Nick’ as your teammate?
*laughs* Yeah it’s always great. Nick is a very, very knowledgeable race car driver, he knows so much about the car’s dynamics and he really has a very structured plan to try things and push the team in different directions; so it’s been very interesting to see how much we’ve tried in the cars, both my car and his car and the feedback. You know it’s a good challenge to have someone like Nick as a team mate. Not taking anything away from Karun, obviously Karun is also pretty tough to beat, so it’s important I think to move on and keep on pushing and beat your team mate whoever it is.
How does this year’s car feel compared to last year’s? You’ve got the new Mahindra Engineering powertrain in the back, is the weight of the car any different?
Our new powertrain is an evolution and it’s a good evolution of last year’s so we have less weight in the rear of the car which is nice. It feels very similar, it even sounds very similar to what we had last year. We also have much more headroom and with the temperatures, so I think yeah hopefully it’s going to be fast. I’m pretty happy with our times in terms of race trim conditions, so I’m confident that we’re going to be ok.
Formula E has to consider a race in Brazil at some point doesn’t it? do you think Brazil is a nation that would get behind the championship?
I’m sure it will, I mean there’s three Brazilian drivers in the championship, two of them fighting for the championship last year…
third one this year…
*smiles* yes and hopefully three of them this year *laughs*, so I think Brazil should really have a race. We got close with the Rio ePrix, it just didn’t happen in the end and I think we’ve been pushing but it depends on so many thing you know. Stopping a region of a city to put a race there is always pretty tough so we’ll see.
Is Rio where you’d like to see the ePrix held?
For me it’s easy if it’s in Sao Paulo *laughs* because it’s my home town, but again it’s all the same so hopefully we’re going to get a race in Brazil and then we’ll get lots of Brazilian fans coming to see us.
Do you think we could ever see a Formula E night race?
I think so I mean I’m sure that depending on the place you go to, if you go to Singapore for instance everything is already setup, there’s already lots of experiences with street circuits at night and it looks pretty cool.
The cars would look incredible, I mean your car especially under the lights…
Yeah with the fluorescent accents it would look pretty cool.
We’ve had one year of #FanBoost now, how do you think the concept has gone? Is there any way you would like to see it change for the future? For example, fans vote live during the race, or every driver is given a Boost to use during the race, but only a few would be awarded a second FanBoost…
I think that currently you cannot have too much more FanBoost because you’re going to overheat your car and then it’s just going to be a worse thing for you. But I think FanBoost is a cool idea involving the fans, it makes the public interact. I think from a drivers perspective it’s just how the FanBoost voting is implemented. Sometimes you see lots of changes very fast and there are ways to do it; so I’d like to see the fans voting, rather than the teams. It should be for drivers rather than teams.
I said before what a popular team Mahindra are with the fans and I think a large part of that is down to how much time it’s drivers and you especially have spent with the fans since the series began. Have you got a message we can give to all your supporters out there?
Well obviously come to the races, it’s great to see the races full of fans, especially in city centres which are not so difficult to access. Also come to the McLaren races of course, I’m racing in that as well. But yeah, just keep on doing what you’re doing because you’re great fans and the support you give me is always really nice!
And keep FanBoosting you!…
And keep FanBoosting me definitely yes! *smiles*
Interviewing the drivers for the first time during Formula E Testing this year always feels like a surreal experience. You learn a lot each time and take something away from every one… whether that’s finding when to end an interview, being prepared to deviate, driver personalities, as well as trying to judge the tone of the questions for each driver and how they are responding to you.
But you needn’t worry with Bruno. Experiencing it first hand and observing him in the garage, in the paddock and with fans in the pit lane… he just has a knack of making people feel at ease and important to him. A down to earth really genuine guy, he was a pleasure to spend time with. Here’s to a strong 2015/16 Formula E season for him and the Mahindra Racing team.
Written by Tom Clancy @Retro_F1