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 26 April 2015

  2. Newgarden gets maiden win at thrilling Alabama GP 22:55

    Newgarden gets maiden win at thrilling Alabama GP

    Josef Newgarden has won the first race of his Verizon IndyCar Series career in thrilling fashion at Barber Motorsports Park. …

    Indy
  3. Todt and delegates safe after Nepal earthquake 15:31

    Todt and delegates safe after Nepal earthquake

    The FIA has confirmed that its delegates - including President Jean Todt - are safe and accounted for after an earthquake…

    F1
  4. Schumacher Jr. wins on debut F4 weekend 15:00

    Schumacher Jr. wins on debut F4 weekend

    Mick Schumacher, son of seven-time Formula 1 World Champion Michael, has taken the first single-seater victory of his career in…

    Misc
  5. Button sets personal best at London Marathon 14:42

    Button sets personal best at London Marathon

    McLaren driver Jenson Button set his new personal best time at the London Marathon on Sunday. Button, running for Cancer…

    F1
  6. 13:48

    Latest FR3.5 photos: Sunday at Aragón

    FR 3.5
  7. Vaxivière beats de Vries at wet Aragón 13:45

    Vaxivière beats de Vries at wet Aragón

    Lotus driver Matthieu Vaxivière claimed a last-gasp victory over Nyck de Vries during a wet second race of the weekend at…

    FR 3.5
  8. Feature: What's gone wrong for Red Bull? 09:27

    Feature: What's gone wrong for Red Bull?

    Red Bull has endured its worst start to a season since emerging as a credible force in 2009. There is one pressing area where…

    F1
  9. Video of the Day: Button in tricycle race 05:22

    Video of the Day: Button in tricycle race

    McLaren-Honda driver Jenson Button takes on BBC Radio 1 DJ Greg James in a tricycle race.

    F1
  10. Saturday 25 April 2015

  11. Castroneves outruns the rain to win Alabama pole 23:08

    Castroneves outruns the rain to win Alabama pole

    Hélio Castroneves put in a quick lap early in the third qualifying session to beat the oncoming rain (and his team-mates) to…

    Indy
  12. Márquez has surgery for finger injury 20:36

    Márquez has surgery for finger injury

    MotoGP World Champion Marc Márquez has undergone successful surgery to treat a fracture of his little finger on his left…

    MotoGP
  13. Daly gets Schmidt seat for Indianapolis 14:29

    Daly gets Schmidt seat for Indianapolis

    Conor Daly will make a return to the Indianapolis 500 this year after signing a deal to race for Schmidt Peterson…

    Indy
  14. 14:20

    Latest FR3.5 photos: Saturday at Aragón

    FR 3.5
  15. Rowland wins FR3.5 opener at Aragón 14:18

    Rowland wins FR3.5 opener at Aragón

    Oliver Rowland claimed victory in the opening Formula Renault 3.5 race of the year at MotorLand Aragón despite not leading a…

    FR 3.5
  16. Hamilton named wealthiest UK sportsman 09:05

    Hamilton named wealthiest UK sportsman

    World Champion Lewis Hamilton has been named as the wealthiest sportsman in Britain in the Sunday Times Sport Rich List. The…

    F1
  17. Video of the Day: Alonso on F1 journey 05:16

    Video of the Day: Alonso on F1 journey

    McLaren-Honda driver Fernando Alonso discusses his Formula 1 journey with the BBC.

    F1
  18. Friday 24 April 2015

  19. 17:02

    Book F1 tickets and join the action live!

    F1
  20. Force India: Let teams choose tyre compounds 16:37

    Force India: Let teams choose tyre compounds

    Force India's Chief Operating Officer, Otmar Szafnauer, has suggested that teams should be allowed to select their two preferred…

    F1
  21. Video: Tour of Monaco with Sam Bird 15:37

    Video: Tour of Monaco with Sam Bird

    Sam Bird takes you through a lap of Monaco ahead of the upcoming ePrix in the principality on May 9.

    FE
  22. Van der Garde's manager downplays Manor talk 14:05

    Van der Garde's manager downplays Manor talk

    Giedo van der Garde's management team has played down talk of a return to Formula 1 with Manor Marussia, insisting that although…

    F1
  23. Marko: Ricciardo of same calibre as Vettel 11:35

    Marko: Ricciardo of same calibre as Vettel

    Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has backed Daniel Ricciardo to lead the team's recovery, claiming that he is of the same calibre…

    F1
  24. Regalia, Comtec split after three days 10:22

    Regalia, Comtec split after three days

    Comtec Racing has been left without any drivers for the opening round of the Formula Renault 3.5 season, after its recent deal…

    FR 3.5
  25. Video of the Day: Sauber's ReSTART - Part 2 05:12

    Video of the Day: Sauber's ReSTART - Part 2

    Marcus Ericsson gets to know Sauber in the second part of the team's special inside documentary.

    F1
  26. Thursday 23 April 2015

  27. Verstappen eager for swift points return 18:03

    Verstappen eager for swift points return

    Max Verstappen is keen to return to the points when Formula 1 arrives in Europe next month. The Toro Rosso rookie scored his…

    F1
  28. Lotus invites fans to Brands filming day 17:30

    Lotus invites fans to Brands filming day

    Lotus has invited fans to watch from the trackside at its Brands Hatch filming event on Monday. Race drivers Romain Grosjean…

    F1
  29. Horner: No short-term fixes for Red Bull 14:11

    Horner: No short-term fixes for Red Bull

    Christian Horner has conceded that there will be no short-term fixes for Red Bull this season, as the squad continues to…

    F1
  30. Vettel becomes ADAC Formula 4 patron 12:18

    Vettel becomes ADAC Formula 4 patron

    Four-time Formula 1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel has been announced as a patron of the ADAC automobile club's new Formula 4…

    F1
  31. 10:41

    Photos: Red Bull's show run in Vienna

    F1
  32. Video: Ricciardo demos F1 car in Austria 10:36

    Video: Ricciardo demos F1 car in Austria

    Watch as Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo showcases the team's RB8 on the streets of Vienna, Austria.

    F1
  33. González set for IndyCar debut with Coyne 09:50

    González set for IndyCar debut with Coyne

    Ex-Formula 1 test driver Rodolfo González will make his IndyCar debut with Dale Coyne Racing at this weekend's Barber…

    Indy
  34. Video of the Day: Sauber's 'Ask the Driver' 05:06

    Video of the Day: Sauber's 'Ask the Driver'

    Sauber drivers Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr answer questions posed by fans of the team.

    F1
  35. Wednesday 22 April 2015

  36. De Vries eyes McLaren seat for 2017 20:59

    De Vries eyes McLaren seat for 2017

    McLaren young driver Nyck de Vries has set his sights on securing a race seat with the Honda-powered Formula 1 outfit for the…

    F1
  37. Video: Formula E – the season so far 14:32

    Video: Formula E – the season so far

    Relive the first half of the inaugural Formula E season, which produced six different winners in six races.

    FE
  38. Pirelli confirms tyres for next four races 12:39

    Pirelli confirms tyres for next four races

    Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli has named its compound nominations for the upcoming Spanish, Monaco, Canadian and Austrian…

    F1
  39. Pedrosa 'responding well' after surgery 11:33

    Pedrosa 'responding well' after surgery

    Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa says he is "responding well" after undergoing surgery for his persistent arm pump issues earlier…

    MotoGP
  40. 10:04

    Gallery: Best photos from the Bahrain GP

    F1
  41. Mark Sutton: Story Behind the Shot - Bahrain 09:14

    Mark Sutton: Story Behind the Shot - Bahrain

    Especially for lovers of motorsport photography, GPUpdate.net's race-by-race series, Story Behind the Shot, continues throughout…

    F1
  42. Video of the Day: Nico Rosberg's Bahrain blog 05:04

    Video of the Day: Nico Rosberg's Bahrain blog

    Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg answers questions posed by fans in his usual post-race video blog.

    F1
  43. Tuesday 21 April 2015

  44. Regalia switches to Comtec for FR3.5 opener 16:18

    Regalia switches to Comtec for FR3.5 opener

    Facu Regalia has confirmed that he will drive for Comtec Racing at this weekend's Formula Renault 3.5 Series opener at MotorLand…

    FR 3.5
  45. Video: Grand Prix of Long Beach highlights 14:09

    Video: Grand Prix of Long Beach highlights

    Watch the highlights from the third round of the IndyCar season at Long Beach, won by Scott Dixon.

    Indy
  46. Ecclestone casts further doubt on Monza 13:40

    Ecclestone casts further doubt on Monza

    Formula 1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone says that the future of Monza on the calendar remains uncertain, with its current deal expiring…

    F1
more news