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Williams signs Senna to complete 2012 F1 lineup

Updated: January 17, 2012, 07:51

MADRID(AP) Formula One team Williams signed Brazilian driver Bruno Senna on Tuesday to complete its 2012 team lineup, returning the Senna name to the British outfit 18 years on.

Senna, the nephew of three-time F1 champion Ayrton Senna, joins Venezuelan driver Pastor Maldonado to give the British team an all-South American lineup going into the March 18 opener in Australia.

Ayrton Senna joined Williams from McLaren in 1994 and was fatally wounded during a crash at San Marino, only his third race with the team.

"It will be very interesting to drive for a team that my uncle has driven for, particularly as quite a few of the people here actually worked with Ayrton. Hopefully we can bring back some memories and create some great new ones, too,'' Senna said in a statement. "I'm really happy to be a part of a team with such a fantastic heritage. I am very proud that Williams has chosen me to race in what will be an important year for them.''

Senna replaces fellow Brazilian driver Rubens Barrichello, who leaves the team after two seasons in which he picked up a combined 51 points, but only four last year.

"I wish my friend (Bruno Senna) all the best ... the future is wide open,'' the 40-year-old former Ferrari and Brawn driver wrote on Twitter.

Bruno Senna served as a test driver for Lotus Renault last season before replacing Nick Heidfeld for the last eight races, scoring two points.

He drove in 18 GPs for Spanish team HRT in 2010.

"The circumstances of Bruno's two seasons in Formula One have not given him an ideal opportunity to deliver consistently so it was essential that we spent as much time with him as possible to understand and evaluate him as a driver,'' team principal Frank Williams said. "He has proven quick, technically insightful and above all capable of learning and applying his learning quickly and consistently. Now we are looking forward to seeing that talent in our race car.''

Senna will get his first taste of his new drive at the season's first official testing session in Jerez, Spain, with the Sao Paulo native getting behind the wheel on Feb. 9.

"I just want to get the maximum possible out of the car and make the most of this opportunity,'' Senna said. "It is such an important year for both the team and myself as it will help shape my future. I hope that future will be long and successful, and it all starts here.''

Senna's signing was also reportedly pushed through because of his strong sponsorship, which includes Embratel and Gillette.

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