Following the announcement of Bruno Senna becoming McLaren P1™ GTR Driver Programme Mentor, we caught up with the McLaren GT factory driver and ex-Formula 1™ racer at Silverstone. 


The Brazilian ex-Formula 1™ driver, nephew of triple Formula 1™ World Champion Ayrton Senna, became a McLaren GT factory driver for the 2015 season, alongside Rob Bell, Kevin Estre and Alvaro Parente. Now, in tandem with his ongoing development programme for the 650S GT3 and 650S Sprint models, as well as racing in selected events with the new 650S GT3, Bruno takes on role of Mentor within the McLaren P1™ GTR Driver Programme. We caught up with him at the Silverstone race circuit in England, during a shakedown session for the McLaren P1™ GTR, to ask what it’s like to be part of the McLaren family, and what his new role entails.


Your uncle Ayrton Senna won three Formula 1™ World Championships with McLaren, but how did your relationship with the team come about?

Since I first started out in motorsport, McLaren was always my dream team. We kept in touch, and with Chris Goodwin [McLaren Chief Test Driver] as my manager, it felt like I was part of the family even though I wasn’t racing for McLaren. Then last year Chris was testing the new 650S GT3, knew about McLaren’s big racing plans for this season, and was developing the McLaren P1™ GTR Driver Programme. So we had a nice chat with the McLaren guys and the people at McLaren GT and this opportunity came about. To be racing for McLaren and helping the McLaren P1™ GTR customers is fantastic.


What were your first impressions of the McLaren P1™ GTR?

I drove the McLaren P1™ GTR, the McLaren P1™ road car and the 650S GT3 all on the same day at Snetterton, which is a very fast track. I drove the McLaren P1™ road car after I had been driving the 650S GT3 car, and after maybe two or three laps I felt like I was getting on top of it – it’s a really quick car. I’ve never driven a road car like that before, one whose performance thresholds are so high. But then there was something else waiting for me, something very colourful, and that’s when I got a real feeling for what the McLaren P1™ GTR can do. It was amazing!


How does the McLaren P1™ GTR feel compared to the McLaren P1™ road car, and to your 650S GT3 race car?

The McLaren P1™ GTR feels more focused for the racetrack. The RaceActive Chassis Control (RCC) can transform the McLaren P1™ for circuit use, but the McLaren P1™ GTR is made to go fast on a racetrack and nothing else. Its pure focus means it has more front-end grip, it is more precise, and there’s more power. Of course it has slick tyres too, but normally when you go from a road car with street tyres to a road car with slick tyres it really takes the edge off. Not with the McLaren P1™ GTR – it is still a magic car, a really thrilling car to drive. And compared to the GT3 car, the McLaren P1™ GTR is like a rocket – you can really feel the power difference (the 650S GT3 car having restricted power due to competion rules).


What does your role as McLaren P1™ GTR Driver Programme Mentor entail?

It’s a great mix really. I take part in some media activities, so I was out in Austria with Top Gear magazine recently, but more importantly I’ll be working with the clients and customers. The initial test session for them is here at Silverstone, then next time out we’ll be at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain. That’s the first on-track activity for the customers in their own McLaren P1™ GTR, but I’ll also be taking them out for some laps so they can see what the car can do. That should be fun –  I hope I don’t scare them too much!


Besides the McLaren P1™ GTR Driver Programme, what does the rest of the year hold for you?

I’m getting ready for the race at Nürburgring and hopefully we can do some extra races as well, outside of the Blancpain championship, as it would be cool to get more time in the 650S GT3, more time with the other drivers. McLaren GT has a busy programme this year, with lots of racing, and the car is developing strongly so hopefully we can get some more wins. The 650S GT3 is doing very well in the Pirelli World Challenge in America, it has just taken its first victory in the GT Asia championship, and I hope our strong European season continues.


Click on the video below to watch McLaren GT factory driver and McLaren P1™ GTR Driver Programme Mentor Bruno Senna attack Silverstone in the McLaren P1™ GTR.






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