2012 Team Preview: HRT
ANOTHER SEASON OF STRUGGLE
SPANISH team Hispania Racing enter their third season in Formula One, having had very little to show for its first two years. Although the team is believed to be in a slightly more secure financial position than it ever has been, another season of struggle is widely predicted.
HRT has needed the money to financially compete in recent years. It started off in 2010 with Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok driving the car. Since then, it has been like a revolving door, with the likes of Sakon Yamamoto, Christian Klien and Vitantonio Liuzzi all trying their luck with no result. This season, it will be interesting to see how the team cope without the services of technical director Geoff Willis, who has joined the Mercedes GP technical dream team. However, they have plans to become an all-Spanish unit, with talks underway for a new factory headquarters near the Valencia Street Circuit.
40-year old Pedro de la Rosa will lead the team this season. The veteran Spaniard, who has raced for Jaguar and Sauber in the past, announced his decision to return to racing back in November. It was something of a surprise, considering the constant struggle for midfield drivers to earn spots on the 2012 grid. However, what de la Rosa will bring to the team is a wealth of technical feedback and car knowledge from his many days as a reliable test driver for McLaren. Plus, he has brief experience of being in a backmarker team from his debut season with Arrows way back in 1999. He is definitely a safe pair of hands.
de la Rosa’s partner will be the Indian, Narain Karthikeyan. Karthikeyan has probably earnt his drive through a wealth of sponsorship backing over talent. He raced for the team last year, only to lose his seat to Daniel Ricciardo after last year’s European Grand Prix. He returned for the inagural Indian Grand Prix and raced well. Although Karthikeyan’s wild 2005 days with Jordan were tamed easily last season, he struggled badly and made little impression on a Sunday afternoon. He will do well to achieve much in 2012 too; more likely to upset top drivers with his lack of attention to use of mirrors than quick lap times.
You have to admire HRT’s desire to continue and they have achieved creditable reliability in their first two seasons, but it is difficult to see anything else again in 2012, other than another battle for survival.