Sao Paulo, Friday: The Driver Formerly Known As Bruno Senna is confident that he will still get a seat in Formula One next year, despite having changed his name so that he will definitely be recruited for F1 on his talent and not because of his famous uncle.

Confident: Ex-GP2 star Bruno Cockhandler
Confident: Ex-GP2 star Bruno Cockhandler

Bruno Cockhandler, nephew of three-time world champion Ayrton Senna, changed his name by deed poll this week after what he called a “drunken bet” with a friend got out of hand.

“My friend accused me of trading off my uncle’s name, getting everywhere because marketing companies love the idea of sponsoring a Senna,” Cockhandler explained to journalists. “So I decided to prove him wrong, and change my name so that it’s not immediately obvious that I’m related to Ayrton.”

Under his previous name Cockhandler finished second in the 2008 GP2 series to Giorgio Pantano, but failed to find a seat in Formula One and has spent this year sitting on the sidelines, waiting for the phone to ring.

“I’m pretty certain that one of the teams will want to sign me up, based only on my amazing talent,” Cockhandler insisted. “I’ve already been in talks with one or two, although I’m obviously not at liberty to say who.” This last sentence is an example of what is known in the sport as “doing a Ralf,” or, less prosaically, “making it up.”

No Formula One team was willing to confirm that they had talked to Cockhandler, though Scuderia Toro Rosso were quick to rule themselves out. “It’s a real missed opportunity,” team principal Franz Tost lamented. “Had he changed his name to Sebastien, we might have been interested.”