Junqueira looking to the future

Bruno Junquiera faced a massive disappointment earlier this year when he was overlooked in favour of Jenson Button for the second Williams drive. Merely being on the short list was at least a sign that his ability was respected, but for an ambitious young driver that doesn't really make up for the massive let down he suffered after the team had put both drivers through an impromptu shootout. However, since then Bruno has bounced back. He's won three of the first four FIA F3000 races, and leads the championship comfortably. Adam Cooper spoke to the friendly Brazilian about his prospects

Junqueira looking to the future

Q: Are you happy with the season to date?

"It's been very good. I've scored points in four races, and I have a big lead. It's my third season of F3000, and my second year with the Petrobras junior team. I'm more experienced now, I fit well with the team, and they have experience. I'm very focussed on trying to win the championship. This is the most important thing for this year."

Q: The impressive thing is that you have had to fight for some of your wins - you didn't just lead from the start. Have you enjoyed that?

"Yes, it was a very difficult race at Nurburgring, and at Barcelona as well. At Imola I could have done better, but I didn't make a good start and I had to finish second. But it's very difficult to overtake with these cars; you have to take too many risks, and maybe it's better to stay behind and finish the race."

Q: This is your third year, so is there big pressure on you to win the title?

"I think that I have to win, but it's not because of outside pressure - it's self pressure. I know that I have to do a good season and win a lot of races and show that I am a good driver. If I do that, I'll be one of the drivers who could possibly go to F1 next year. The F1 team owners look for the best results and maybe I'll have an opportunity to drive."

Q: Has your current success helped to make up for missing out on the Williams drive?

"I was very pleased to have a chance to be a F1 driver in a team like Williams. Of course I think I did a very good test for them. But I'm pleased because Jenson is doing quite a good job now, and we were very equal in the test. I think if I was there I could do a good job as well. Of course, I always dreamed about being an F1 driver. I was almost there...But leading the F3000 championship and winning races makes me really happy. I have a very good team in F3000 that supports me, and I'm very happy here. It's been a good season and I'm still the Williams test driver, which is a really good deal for me."

Q: But presumably you are not doing much F1 testing because Jenson needs mileage...

"Yes, Jenson needs to get miles as well. Every two weeks there's a race and then one week without a race. So for me as well the F3000 is demanding, because you usually do one day's testing between the racing. So my schedule is a little bit busy until the end of August, because F3000 finishes very early. After September until the end of the year I'll do more testing, because Jenson will know the car better. It's good because I'm getting more knowledge of F1, and in the tests I can help the team to improve the car as well, which makes me feel good."

Q: Did Jenson say anything to you when he got the job?

"No, he didn't say anything. But that's OK. He was very happy. What can I say - at least Frank made a good decision that showed the other F1 teams that new drivers can do a good job. I think that may give me a possibility to get an F1 drive next year."

Q: You are obviously going well in F3000 now, but how disappointed were you
in the first few weeks after the decision?

"It was very, very hard to concentrate again on F3000. Two days after this decision I had a test in Jerez, and had to come back and drive that car again, changing gears with a gearlever! But the one thing which really supported me was my team. The people from my team were really good. It's a 'friends' relationship, and this helped me a lot. That was the most important thing because it was very difficult to come back and focus on F3000. It's a category where you have to give 100% every session, otherwise you are going to be in the midfield."

Q: Williams already has Ralf, Jenson and Juan Montoya to choose from. Does that mean you are looking at other F1 teams already?

"I'm really not thinking about F1 yet. As I said it was very difficult to concentrate on F3000 again. After the season I still have time to look for a chance in F1 or another kind of category for next year."

Q: Most of the Brazilian drivers come from Sao Paulo, and their fathers and uncles raced each other, but you were something of an outsider and are not part of the racing 'mafia'. Who did you grow up with?

"Yes, my city is very big, but it never had a kart circuit! I was the first driver from my city, but now it's me and Cristiano da Matta. We were friends and he started racing two years later than me, and became my team-mate in karts. I used to go a lot to Sao Paulo, because everybody from all over Brazil goes there. I won the Brazilian championship three times. I know a lot of drivers - I was always racing against Enrique Bernoldi - that was the biggest challenge when I was young! There was also Tony Kanaan and Helio Castro Neves, but it was usually me and Bernoldi since we were 10 years old."

Q: Was Ayrton Senna a hero as you were growing up?

"I don't have a big hero, but Senna and Nelson Piquet were great for Brazil. I met Senna just once, but I'm a good friend of Piquet. I don't have a big hero, but I try to see the best part of each driver and try to do like that. Brazil has had a lot of good drivers in the past, and Senna was one of the best drivers ever."

Q: Has Nelson actually helped your career?

"He's given me some help when I needed it, and a lot of advice about what I have to do. In fact in the past he gave me some advice, and I didn't think it was the right way, but I did it, and now I know that he was right. I like him because he tries to help people from karts, the people that are starting in the low categories."

Q: Finally, how are you going to approach the rest of the year? You have a good lead, but it can disappear just as easily...

"Exactly. I have a good lead, but it can go in one race. I think I have to stay consistent and try to get points in each race. And when I have the possibility, I have to try to win. That is the key to staying in the front in the championship, and that's what I'm looking for."

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