Bruno Junqueira and the lost seat

Bruno Junqueira and the lost seat

4 March 2013 – The battle for the last remaining seat in Formula 1 brought back some memories from days past. Force India had to choose between Adrian Sutil and Jules Bianchi and both were recently testing in Barcelona. Thirteen years ago, something similar happened at Williams. We all know who got the nod back then but who was Jenson Button's rival? GPUpdate.net found him and had a good chat.

Junqueira in 2000
Bruno Junqueira had everything going for him in 2000. The Brazilian was testing for Williams and when it became clear that Alex Zanardi wouldn't be driving for the team in the coming season, he thought his Formula 1 debut was right around the corner. But Williams brought in Formula 3 driver Jenson Button and gave him the drive after a shoot-out in Spain. Junqueira would never drive a Formula 1 race and continued his career in the US, where he gained considerable success.

Junqueira was more than happy to talk about his time as a Williams test driver. "At the time, Williams had the idea to have a third driver," he said. "They needed a test between me and Darren Manning, who was the new British hope as the Macau winner in '99. But also, they wanted to test a German driver, because they were going to drive with a BMW engine. Because I did so well for the Petrobras Junior Team, who had the same sponsors as Williams, Williams gave me the test.

"It was a good, proper three-day test in Jerez. Everything worked well and I was chosen to be the third driver. If Alex Zanardi had any problems, I would be the one to replace him. And when Zanardi got fired, I couldn't belive it. I was going to get the drive! But then I was contacted and they said 'we have a very good British driver and we want to test him, with you as a benchmark'."

And despite a hopelessly unreliable BMW engine, a comparison could be made after a couple of days of testing. "At the time, they didn't show anybody any laptimes," Junqueira explained. "It wasn't like today, where there are timing screens. So they made sure that they didn't tell me the lap times. Someone told me I was like a tenth quicker than him. But more important than that, I heard that me and Jenson were basically the same, performance-wise, on the long run. The engineer liked me because I had more experience. I was like 24, he was 20. I had a Formula 3000 season under my belt, he just had Formula 3.

"But for some reason, they chose Jenson. I think he was a great talent and he's a great driver, but it was very hard. I was all by myself and I didn't have much information. At the end of the day, I'll never know the whole truth. I don't know if I was bad, or that they just wanted an English driver. It's hard to say why; in Formula 1, it can be so many things. But they picked Jenson. That's what happened.

"My goal was Formula 1, but I didn't have a chance to race for a good team in 2001. I had like five offers on the table at the end of 2000. But mostly for testing, even a two-year testing contract. The racing seats that were available were not 100 percent sure, you had to wait and they were at small teams. Maybe they needed money and then I got a good offer to come to the US. And in my second year there I finished second in the championship, but I never got the chance to come back to Europe."

Junqueira finished second in the Champ Car series for three years in a row and took pole at Indianapolis in 2002. "A journalist asked me, after Jenson got the championship, what I thought," he added. "But it's funny, in the first five years in the US, I won a lot of races and finished second in the championship three times. And he didn't win anything. So I said 'for sure he made more money, but I had more fun'.

Bruno last year in IndyCar
"In racing, it's a fine line between getting it right or wrong. Sometimes, you have to be a little bit lucky. My goal was to race in Formula 1, but I'm very happy with my career. I tested for Formula 1 and took the F3000 championship. Mark Webber finished third that year, Fernando Alonso fourth. Of course, those guys were very talented."

Junqueira still follows Formula 1 and would love to return to Europe one day. But that dream of racing in Formula 1, that one will never come true.

Ivo Pakvis
Twitter: @ipakvis

related

Comments

Latest News
Full
Compact

  1. Sunday 30 April 2017

  2. Frustrated Alonso: Every weekend is the same 17:25

    Frustrated Alonso: Every weekend is the same

    A frustrated Fernando Alonso commented that "every weekend is the same" after he failed to even make the start of the Russian…

    F1
  3. Räikkönen content with return to podium 17:17

    Räikkönen content with return to podium

    Ferrari driver Kimi Räikkönen expressed satisfaction at returning to the podium positions for the first time since mid-2016 as…

    F1
  4. 17:06

    Latest Formula 1 photos: Sunday at Sochi

    F1
  5. 17:04

    Follow GPUpdate on Instagram in 2017!

    F1
  6. Palmer, Grosjean blame each other for clash 16:48

    Palmer, Grosjean blame each other for clash

    Renault's Jolyon Palmer and Haas' Romain Grosjean have blamed each other for the collision which caused both to retire at the…

    F1
  7. Wolff 'very proud' of Bottas after first win 16:31

    Wolff 'very proud' of Bottas after first win

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says he is "very proud" of Valtteri Bottas after he claimed his maiden Formula 1 victory in Sunday's…

    F1
  8. Hamilton: P4 maximum with cooling issues 15:56

    Hamilton: P4 maximum with cooling issues

    Lewis Hamilton says fourth position was the best result he could have achieved in the Russian Grand Prix after struggling with…

    F1
  9. Massa downplays Vettel's complaints 15:42

    Massa downplays Vettel's complaints

    Williams' Felipe Massa has dismissed Sebastian Vettel's complaints after the Ferrari driver lost time trying to lap the…

    F1
  10. Vettel: Victory chance lost at the start 15:20

    Vettel: Victory chance lost at the start

    Sebastian Vettel believes his prospects of taking victory at the Russian Grand Prix were squandered at the start, as he lost out…

    F1
  11. Bottas: Maiden F1 win worth the wait 15:11

    Bottas: Maiden F1 win worth the wait

    A delighted Valtteri Bottas says his maiden Formula 1 victory was "worth the wait" as he fended off Sebastian Vettel during a…

    F1
  12. 14:41

    In full: Russian Grand Prix race result

    F1
  13. Bottas fends off Vettel for maiden F1 win 14:39

    Bottas fends off Vettel for maiden F1 win

    Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas jumped both Ferrari drivers at the start and fended off a charging Sebastian Vettel in the closing…

    F1
  14. 12:36

    Follow the Russian Grand Prix live!

    F1
  15. 12:02

    Starting grid for the Russian Grand Prix

    F1
  16. Overview: Formula 1 qualifying battles 09:32

    Overview: Formula 1 qualifying battles

    As often highlighted: a Formula 1 driver's main reference point is their team-mate. Although race results and the final…

    F1
  17. Honda to supply Sauber from 2018 08:27

    Honda to supply Sauber from 2018

    Honda has announced that it will supply Sauber with power units from the 2018 season onwards, in addition to the firm's…

    F1
  18. Hülkenberg: Race will be 'true teller' of pace 08:10

    Hülkenberg: Race will be 'true teller' of pace

    Nico Hülkenberg believes the Russian Grand Prix will act as a "true teller" of Renault's recent updates, if he is able to…

    F1
  19. Grosjean: Struggles not down to brakes 07:34

    Grosjean: Struggles not down to brakes

    Haas driver Romain Grosjean says his struggles during qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix were not brake-related, stating that…

    F1
  20. Video of the Day: Fan drives Formula 1 car 05:32

    Video of the Day: Fan drives Formula 1 car

    Watch as a lifelong Formula 1 fan drives a Formula 1 car for the first time, courtesy of Renault.

    F1
  21. Pagenaud claims victory at Phoenix 04:30

    Pagenaud claims victory at Phoenix

    Simon Pagenaud took advantage of a timely caution to capture the lead and hold on for victory at Phoenix on Saturday night. The…

    Indy
  22. Saturday 29 April 2017

  23. 19:14

    Latest Formula 1 photos: Saturday at Sochi

    F1
  24. Alonso: McLaren losing 2.5s on straights 19:10

    Alonso: McLaren losing 2.5s on straights

    McLaren driver Fernando Alonso has continued his criticism of power unit supplier Honda, believing the MCL32 is giving away 2.5…

    F1
  25. Ocon 'a bit frustrated' despite maiden Q3 run 16:16

    Ocon 'a bit frustrated' despite maiden Q3 run

    Force India youngster Esteban Ocon believes he could have qualified in a higher position, despite making his first Q3 appearance…

    F1
  26. Ricciardo 'staying positive' despite gap 15:24

    Ricciardo 'staying positive' despite gap

    Daniel Ricciardo says he is "staying positive" about Red Bull's prospects in 2017 despite a sizeable deficit to pole position at…

    F1
  27. Massa enjoying fight with Red Bull drivers 15:09

    Massa enjoying fight with Red Bull drivers

    Williams driver Felipe Massa says he is enjoying being able to fight with the Red Bull pair at this weekend's Russian Grand…

    F1
  28. Bottas eyes start gains from third place 14:54

    Bottas eyes start gains from third place

    Valtteri Bottas is optimistic that the nature of the opening sequence of corners at the Sochi Autodrom can provide him with the…

    F1
  29. Hamilton laments final sector struggles 14:48

    Hamilton laments final sector struggles

    Lewis Hamilton lamented balance troubles in the final sector as he wound up fourth during qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix…

    F1
  30. Räikkönen felt pole was within reach 14:45

    Räikkönen felt pole was within reach

    Kimi Räikkönen reckons pole position was within his grasp before he was overhauled by Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel in…

    F1
  31. Vettel 'over the moon' with Sochi pole 14:36

    Vettel 'over the moon' with Sochi pole

    Sebastian Vettel has labelled himself as "over the moon" after he claimed his first pole position since 2015, with Ferrari…

    F1
  32. 14:08

    Russian Grand Prix: Qualifying results

    F1
  33. Vettel on pole, Ferrari locks out front row 14:06

    Vettel on pole, Ferrari locks out front row

    Sebastian Vettel took pole position for the Russian Grand Prix in a tight qualifying at Sochi Autodrom, ahead of team-mate Kimi…

    F1
  34. 12:45

    Follow qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix!

    F1
  35. 11:06

    Russian Grand Prix: Full Practice 3 results

    F1
  36. Vettel, Ferrari stay on top in final practice 11:01

    Vettel, Ferrari stay on top in final practice

    Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari continued to set the pace during Saturday's final free practice session for the Russian Grand Prix…

    F1
  37. Video: Andretti 'Visor Cam' at Phoenix 10:06

    Video: Andretti 'Visor Cam' at Phoenix

    Go onboard with Marco Andretti's visor camera for a lap of the Phoenix International Raceway.

    Indy
  38. 09:46

    Follow final practice for the Russian GP!

    F1
  39. Sirotkin set for second FP1 run in Spain 07:38

    Sirotkin set for second FP1 run in Spain

    Sergey Sirotkin is set to receive another opportunity to drive the R.S.17 during practice for the Spanish Grand Prix, after his…

    F1
  40. Video of the Day: Alonso visits IndyCar 05:38

    Video of the Day: Alonso visits IndyCar

    Follow Fernando Alonso as he makes his first visit to the IndyCar paddock and Andretti headquarters.

    F1
  41. Castroneves gets Phoenix pole, lap record 05:12

    Castroneves gets Phoenix pole, lap record

    Hélio Castroneves reset his own track record from 2016 en route to pole at Phoenix on Friday night. The Brazilian led the field…

    Indy
  42. Friday 28 April 2017

  43. 16:22

    Latest Formula 1 photos: Friday at Sochi

    F1
more news