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 20 August 2017

  2. Verstappen doubts Red Bull win threat 14:17

    Verstappen doubts Red Bull win threat

    Max Verstappen feels it will still be "tough" for Red Bull to compete with Mercedes and Ferrari when Formula 1 returns from its…

    F1
  3. Wehrlein hopes for non-DTM alternative 12:22

    Wehrlein hopes for non-DTM alternative

    Pascal Wehrlein says the "second way" of reaching Formula 1 will no longer be possible for any Mercedes-backed youngsters…

    F1
  4. Video: Visor Cam at Pocono Raceway 11:34

    Video: Visor Cam at Pocono Raceway

    Ride along with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver Graham Rahal during his qualifying run at Pocono.

    Indy
  5. Hunter-Reay in doubt for race after crash 10:02

    Hunter-Reay in doubt for race after crash

    Andretti Autosport's Ryan Hunter-Reay will need to be cleared to drive by IndyCar's medical team on Sunday, following a hefty…

    Indy
  6. In photos: Formula 1's iconic Spa moments 09:42

    In photos: Formula 1's iconic Spa moments

    Formula 1 returns from its summer break next weekend with the Belgian Grand Prix, which takes place at the legendary…

    F1
  7. Motegi gets new five-year MotoGP deal 08:47

    Motegi gets new five-year MotoGP deal

    Motegi will remain as the host of the Japanese Grand Prix until at least 2023 after signing a new five-year deal with MotoGP…

    MotoGP
  8. Nakagami graduates to MotoGP with LCR 08:35

    Nakagami graduates to MotoGP with LCR

    LCR Honda will expand to a two-bike team in 2018 after confirming that Takaaki Nakagami will graduate to MotoGP, partnering Cal…

    MotoGP
  9. Gasly takes maiden SF victory at Motegi 08:22

    Gasly takes maiden SF victory at Motegi

    Red Bull-backed Pierre Gasly captured his maiden Super Formula win after triumphing at Motegi on Sunday. Gasly qualified in…

    SF
  10. Video: Williams Heritage Stories - FW14B 05:42

    Video: Williams Heritage Stories - FW14B

    Williams tells the story of the 1992 title-winning Williams-Renault FW14B, with input from champion Nigel Mansell, Riccardo…

    F1
  11. Saturday 19 August 2017

  12. 20:45

    Latest IndyCar photos: Saturday at Pocono

    Indy
  13. 20:44

    Follow us on Instagram for the best photos!

    F1
  14. Video: Castroneves crashes during qualifying 20:42

    Video: Castroneves crashes during qualifying

    Penske's Hélio Castroneves escapes unharmed following a hard hit during IndyCar qualifying at Pocono Raceway.

    Indy
  15. Sato beats Pagenaud to pole at Pocono 20:36

    Sato beats Pagenaud to pole at Pocono

    Andretti Autosport's Takuma Sato ran last in an eventful Saturday qualifying order for the ABC Supply 500, edging out Penske…

    Indy
  16. Hamilton: Mercedes in 'good place' with tyres 16:33

    Hamilton: Mercedes in 'good place' with tyres

    Lewis Hamilton believes Mercedes is in a "good place" with its understanding of Pirelli's tyres, after problems during the early…

    F1
  17. Video: Top overtakes from FE's third season 12:42

    Video: Top overtakes from FE's third season

    Take a look at the 20 best overtakes from the 2016/17 Formula E championship, as chosen by series officials.

    FE
  18. Steiner: Minardi-style team could aid youth 10:08

    Steiner: Minardi-style team could aid youth

    Haas Team Principal Guenther Steiner believes Formula 1 would benefit from the existence of a Minardi-style outfit, in order to…

    F1
  19. Video: Day in the life of an F1 show car team 05:36

    Video: Day in the life of an F1 show car team

    Mercedes highlights what it takes to put on a spectacular F1 show at the world's best motorsport events.

    F1
  20. Friday 18 August 2017

  21. Video: IndyCar's 2018 speedway aero kit 17:12

    Video: IndyCar's 2018 speedway aero kit

    IndyCar technical guru Jon Beekhuis runs through the features on the series' 2018 speedway kit.

    Indy
  22. Social media: Who's winning off the track? 16:02

    Social media: Who's winning off the track?

    Social media is an increasingly important tool for drivers and teams to share key moments and communicate with their fans, but…

    F1
  23. Overview: Formula 1 silly season rumbles on 13:42

    Overview: Formula 1 silly season rumbles on

    While the Formula 1 community has recharged its batteries over the summer break, the silly season has rumbled on in the…

    F1
  24. F1 considering options for second US race 12:59

    F1 considering options for second US race

    New York, Miami, Los Angeles and Las Vegas have all shown interest in hosting a second Grand Prix in the United States…

    F1
  25. Video: What happens during the shutdown? 11:16

    Video: What happens during the shutdown?

    What goes on at an F1 factory during the summer break? Mercedes 'reveals all' in this light-hearted video.

    F1
  26. Alonso: 'Unfinished business' with McLaren 09:54

    Alonso: 'Unfinished business' with McLaren

    Fernando Alonso says he is open to sticking with McLaren for 2018, highlighting "unfinished business together", but needs…

    F1
  27. Mid-season review: Sauber still at the back 08:52

    Mid-season review: Sauber still at the back

    GPUpdate.net concludes its mid-season review series with Sauber, which has remained at the rear of the Formula 1 field as it…

    F1
  28. Video: Keke vs Nico - Williams memories 05:32

    Video: Keke vs Nico - Williams memories

    F1 champion father and son Keke and Nico Rosberg share their favourite memories of Williams.

    F1
  29. Thursday 17 August 2017

  30. Video: How to master IndyCar oval tracks 17:02

    Video: How to master IndyCar oval tracks

    A selection of IndyCar drivers talk about the challenges of racing on ovals, and how to master them.

    Indy
  31. Williams 'very disappointed' with first half 16:27

    Williams 'very disappointed' with first half

    Williams technical chief Paddy Lowe says the team was left feeling "very disappointed" with its results over the opening half of…

    F1
  32. Overview: Alternative stats from season so far 14:58

    Overview: Alternative stats from season so far

    Formula 1 championship standings, race wins and pole positions all get covered, but what are the lesser-known statistics of the…

    F1
  33. Marko backs Vettel to claim 2017 crown 12:34

    Marko backs Vettel to claim 2017 crown

    Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has tipped Sebastian Vettel to come back "even stronger" following the summer break and clinch…

    F1
  34. Video: Sébastien Loeb returns to action 11:27

    Video: Sébastien Loeb returns to action

    Watch as nine-time WRC champion Sébastien Loeb returns to action at the wheel of the Citroën C3.

    WRC
  35. Makino to make F3 return at Zandvoort 10:40

    Makino to make F3 return at Zandvoort

    Honda-affiliated Tadasuke Makino will return to the European Formula 3 grid at this weekend's Zandvoort round, after recovering…

    F3
  36. Ferrari hopeful of avoiding turbo penalties 10:08

    Ferrari hopeful of avoiding turbo penalties

    Ferrari is hopeful of avoiding power unit-related penalties over the second half of the season, despite both its drivers being…

    F1
  37. Mid-season review: McLaren-Honda's woes 08:42

    Mid-season review: McLaren-Honda's woes

    GPUpdate.net continues its mid-season review series with McLaren-Honda, which has lacked reliability and performance…

    F1
  38. Video: IndyCar 'Photo Finish' with Dixon 05:43

    Video: IndyCar 'Photo Finish' with Dixon

    Scott Dixon is the first guest on IndyCar's 'Photo Finish' series as he looks back on his career.

    Indy
  39. Wednesday 16 August 2017

  40. Saavedra gets SPM seat for next two rounds 17:17

    Saavedra gets SPM seat for next two rounds

    Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (SPM) has announced that Sebastián Saavedra will pilot the No. 7 Honda for the next two rounds of…

    Indy
  41. Iannone urges patience for Suzuki gains 16:12

    Iannone urges patience for Suzuki gains

    Andrea Iannone says Suzuki "learned so much" across back-to-back events in the Czech Republic and Austria, but has urged the…

    MotoGP
  42. Video: F1 2017 game 'Born to Be Wild' trailer 14:24

    Video: F1 2017 game 'Born to Be Wild' trailer

    Watch the latest trailer for Codemasters' new video game, F1 2017, to be released on August 25.

    F1
  43. Vandoorne making 'big steps' at every race 12:19

    Vandoorne making 'big steps' at every race

    Stoffel Vandoorne feels that he is making "big steps" forward at every Grand Prix following a difficult start to his first…

    F1
  44. Video: Mansell's Williams FW14B on track 11:02

    Video: Mansell's Williams FW14B on track

    25 years ago today, Nigel Mansell claimed the 1992 world title with the revolutionary Williams FW14B. Karun Chandhok recently…

    F1
  45. Rabat's title-winning Moto2 bike stolen 10:28

    Rabat's title-winning Moto2 bike stolen

    Tito Rabat's title-winning Moto2 bike was stolen from Marc VDS' base in Belgium on Wednesday, the team has revealed, as it seeks…

    MotoGP
more news