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. Friday 31 October 2014

  2. Caterham appeals to 'credible' parties 21:43

    Caterham appeals to 'credible' parties

    Caterham's administrators say they are holding discussions with several "credible" parties with regards to the potential...

    F1
  3. Ecclestone says grid could drop to 14 cars 21:07

    Ecclestone says grid could drop to 14 cars

    Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has warned that there could be only 14 cars on the 2015 grid as a result of the sport's...

    F1
  4. 20:41

    United States GP: Full Free Practice 2 results

    F1
  5. Hamilton stays on top in second practice 20:37

    Hamilton stays on top in second practice

    Lewis Hamilton remained at the top of the timesheets during second practice for the United States Grand Prix, although his...

    F1
  6. 18:51

    Follow FP2 for the United States GP!

    F1
  7. 17:34

    Latest Formula 1 photos: Friday in Austin

    F1
  8. Horner: Vettel will take part in qualifying 17:30

    Horner: Vettel will take part in qualifying

    Red Bull team boss Christian Horner has made clear that Sebastian Vettel will partake in qualifying for the United States...

    F1
  9. 16:54

    United States GP: Full Free Practice 1 results

    F1
  10. Hamilton fastest in opening Austin practice 16:36

    Hamilton fastest in opening Austin practice

    Lewis Hamilton set the pace during Friday morning's opening free practice session for the United States Grand Prix, edging...

    F1
  11. Administrators: Caterham almost raced in Austin 16:21

    Administrators: Caterham almost raced in Austin

    The administrators attempting to save the Caterham Formula 1 team say the outfit came close to racing at this weekend's...

    F1
  12. 14:44

    Follow FP1 for the United States GP!

    F1
  13. Hernández gets 2015 Ducati support 12:11

    Hernández gets 2015 Ducati support

    Yonny Hernández will continue with Pramac Racing in 2015 after Ducati confirmed that the Colombian has taken on an enhanced...

    MotoGP
  14. FR3.5 exploring 18-inch tyres for 2016 10:43

    FR3.5 exploring 18-inch tyres for 2016

    Renault Sport has revealed that its principal junior championship – the Formula Renault 3.5 Series – is evaluating a switch t...

    FR 3.5
  15. Verstappen would prefer Vergne as team-mate 10:01

    Verstappen would prefer Vergne as team-mate

    Max Verstappen says he would like to have Jean-Éric Vergne as his team-mate when he makes his Formula 1 debut with Toro...

    F1
  16. Kaltenborn 'disturbed' by plight of F1 09:52

    Kaltenborn 'disturbed' by plight of F1

    Sauber Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn says she is "disturbed" that Formula 1 was unable to take measures to prevent two...

    F1
  17. Video of the Day: Hamilton's Austin track guide 09:03

    Video of the Day: Hamilton's Austin track guide

    Join Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton for a virtual lap of the Circuit of The Americas.

    F1
  18. Räikkönen sure Ferrari can make 'big leap' 08:55

    Räikkönen sure Ferrari can make 'big leap'

    Kimi Räikkönen says he is sure that Ferrari will make a "big leap" forward next year after enduring a troublesome 2014 c...

    F1
  19. Thursday 30 October 2014

  20. 21:32

    Latest F1 photos: Thursday in Austin

    F1
  21. Qualifying revised due to smaller field 21:31

    Qualifying revised due to smaller field

    Formula 1 will adopt a revised qualifying format for this weekend's United States Grand Prix, due to the absence of the...

    F1
  22. Alonso excited by 'very ambitious' plan 19:44

    Alonso excited by 'very ambitious' plan

    Fernando Alonso chose to remain coy over his future during the build up to the United States Grand Prix, explaining only...

    F1
  23. Button to take five-place gearbox penalty 17:58

    Button to take five-place gearbox penalty

    Jenson Button will take a gearbox penalty at this weekend's United States Grand Prix. Under Formula 1's current...

    F1
  24. Vergne says he is 'best option' for Toro Rosso 17:45

    Vergne says he is 'best option' for Toro Rosso

    Jean-Éric Vergne reckons he is the "best option" out of the drivers vying to race alongside Max Verstappen at Toro Rosso...

    F1
  25. Drivers open to three-car F1 teams 17:12

    Drivers open to three-car F1 teams

    Formula 1 drivers say they are open to being a part of three-car teams, as the debate over grid size continues. With...

    F1
  26. Domenicali to start work at Audi this week 15:28

    Domenicali to start work at Audi this week

    Stefano Domenicali will begin work at Audi on November 1, the German manufacturer has confirmed to...

    Misc
  27. IndyCar announces 2015 calendar 14:51

    IndyCar announces 2015 calendar

    IndyCar officials presented a 17-race calendar for the 2015 season on Thursday. As previously confirmed, the campaign...

    Indy
  28. Family: Bianchi remains critical but stable 14:23

    Family: Bianchi remains critical but stable

    Jules Bianchi remains in a critical but stable condition at the Mie General Medical Center in Yokkaichi following his...

    F1
  29. Vettel: Red Bull blocked early release 13:32

    Vettel: Red Bull blocked early release

    Quadruple World Champion Sebastian Vettel has confirmed that Red Bull has prevented him from exiting his contract early...

    F1
  30. Video: Haas F1 factory build time-lapse 11:14

    Video: Haas F1 factory build time-lapse

    Relive the 339-day construction of Haas F1 Team's new facility in Kannapolis in this time-lapse video.

    F1
  31. 10:32

    MotoGP photos: Stoner in action at Motegi

    MotoGP
  32. Stoner describes 'very positive' Motegi test 10:31

    Stoner describes 'very positive' Motegi test

    Casey Stoner has described his two-day test with Honda's 2015 bike at Motegi as "very positive". The two-time MotoGP...

    MotoGP
  33. 09:56

    F1 photos: Ocon tests F10 at Fiorano

    F1
  34. Ferrari praises Ocon after F1 test 09:51

    Ferrari praises Ocon after F1 test

    Ferrari has heaped praise on Esteban Ocon after the French teenager's prize Formula 1 test at Fiorano on Wednesday. Ocon,...

    F1
  35. Warwick confirmed as Austin steward 08:59

    Warwick confirmed as Austin steward

    Derek Warwick has been confirmed as the FIA's driver representative steward for this weekend's United States Grand...

    F1
  36. USGP memories: Hamilton wins, 2012 05:02

    USGP memories: Hamilton wins, 2012

    Relive the inaugural USGP at the Circuit of The Americas, where Lewis Hamilton overcame Sebastian Vettel.

    F1
  37. Wednesday 29 October 2014

  38. Hawksworth joins Sato at Foyt for 2015 20:02

    Hawksworth joins Sato at Foyt for 2015

    British driver Jack Hawksworth will join Takuma Sato at AJ Foyt Racing in IndyCar next season as the squad expands to a...

    Indy
  39. Vettel set to sit out qualifying for USGP 18:00

    Vettel set to sit out qualifying for USGP

    Sebastian Vettel says he will probably sit out qualifying for the United States Grand Prix as Red Bull is likely to make a...

    F1
  40. Mercedes awarded the Dewar Trophy 14:18

    Mercedes awarded the Dewar Trophy

    Mercedes has been awarded the Dewar Trophy for producing the best power unit under Formula 1's new technical...

    F1
  41. Video: Pirelli's guide to the United States GP 13:30

    Video: Pirelli's guide to the United States GP

    Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli previews this weekend's United States Grand Prix.

    F1
  42. Stoner begins test with 2015 Honda 11:48

    Stoner begins test with 2015 Honda

    Double MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner has commenced a two-day test with the 2015 Honda RC213V at Twin Ring Motegi in...

    MotoGP
  43. Fernandes says big teams as much at fault 11:10

    Fernandes says big teams as much at fault

    Tony Fernandes says Formula 1 needs to examine itself in the wake of the collapse of the Caterham and Marussia...

    F1
more news