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GP Week : Issue 134
“THIS is definitely a perk of the job,” smiles Bruno Senna. No kidding. as if having a 200mph office wasn’t cool enough on its own (I mean, there must be a catch, right?) the accoutrements prove that Senna’s talents – his speed, his technical feedback, his zeal with the sponsors and media - are gifts that keep on giving. We’re staring approvingly at the tail end of Bruno’s brand new company car, a titanium silver Lotus Evora. Poised like an attack dog, it’s a low, wide, pointy-nosed weapon and its target is the mountain that rises behind Monaco, the lucky 27-year-old’s adopted home. The Principality being what it is – a glitzy ghetto for F1 drivers, a Mediterranean Stella Street – the first person I bump into before ringing Senna’s doorbell is Felipe Massa. He leaves his peach-coloured condo for his daily jog, and walks around the Lotus making approving noises before Bruno shows up: “Hey Felipe, check out my new toy,” waves Bruno, before complaining he’s going to need a second parking space. Till now, Bruno hasn’t had his own wheels in Monte Carlo. Instead he’s been borrowing a friend’s Porsche GT2, blasting it along the corniche to Nice Airport on the occasions he doesn’t use the helicopter service, which is conveniently located in front of his apartment. Generous friend, this Porsche owner: “Yeah, very nice. It’s an awesome car,” confirms Bruno, who covers the rent on the parking spot, “but the Evora is much better suited to Monaco. The GT2 is very aggressive and it doesn’t like the bumps and the roads here are very unforgiving. The Evora, on the other hand, is the perfect car for Monaco. The Evora has the most impeccable chassis. I mean really, the ride is just sublime. Even Lotus, who everyone knows are the best in the world at this, have outdone themselves. The handling, the balance ... I’ve driven plenty of these, the standard and the ‘S’. I’ve driven the Goodwood hill climb course, and I thrashed the Evora at the opening of the new Hethel Test Track. I’m really excited to have this one of my own.” Bruno will soon have his hand in the development of Lotus’s future models. The designs for the new Esprit and Elite certainly look the business. Bruno’s job will be to apply the performance to match. “I’m really looking forward to getting busy with that,” he enthuses. It’s not the first time a member of Bruno’s family has been drafted in to fine-tune an iconic supercar. Uncle Ayrton had his fingerprints on the Honda NSX. “I remember sitting on Ayrton’s lap, driving around the Algarve in his NSX. He let me steer around the corners while he did the pedals and the gears. That was probably the coolest memory of my entire childhood. He was going pretty fast and I wasn’t really quite legal to drive!” We are due a visit to the jet wash. Bruno’s car may have been freshly delivered, but not on the back of a flat-bed truck. Instead the Brazilian had entrusted me to drive the Lotus all the way down from its Norfolk birthplace. It had taken a circuitous route, via Paris and Valencia. It even gate-crashed a wedding in La Rochelle en route. Surely wedding crashing should be a staple of all good road trips. F1 FEATURE >>