Can HRT be saved? Spanish team desperately needs a buyer
By Berthold Bouman
More news has emerged about the financially stricken HRT team, German and Spanish media have suggested that 32 employers have already been dismissed, and even hinted HRT engineers are currently concerned about the safety of drivers Pedro de la Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan, as now only a few people are preparing the cars before they are shipped to the circuit, the rest is done by the crew in the garage.
Indeed, in India and Abu Dhabi both drivers ended the race in a spectacular way, due to technical failures. De la Rosa had a brake failure in India, and Karthikayan said his steering wheel ‘locked solid’ in Abu Dhabi, he had to brake hard in a very fast corner, and an unsuspecting Nico Rosberg escaped serious injuries when his Mercedes was launched into the air after it had slammed into the back of the HRT.
The situation seems to be very desperate, HRT needs 40 million Euro before December 2, or the team might face closure. HRT’s owner, the Spanish Thesan Capital investment company this week admitted the team is for sale, but have not said one word about how serious the situation currently is.
Thesan Capital said when they bought HRT it would be a long-lasting relationship, but after less than two years the Spanish investor already wants to get rid of the team. Another problem is that HRT has already committed to the new Concorde Agreement, which means it will cost them dearly if they don’t participate in the 2013 season, or miss the last two races of this season for that matter.
There are also reports HRT CEO Saul Ruiz de Marcos wrote a letter to the Chinese Motor Racing Federation reserve driver Ma Qing Hua could get a permanent seat if he would bring 30 million Euro of sponsor backing. There are also rumours ex-Team Principal Colin Kolles could be recruited as a crisis-manager to save the team once again.
The HRT cars have already been shipped to Austin for this weekend’s United States Grand Prix and will probably also be present during the Brazilian Grand Prix at the Interlagos circuit, but after that the future of HRT looks very bleak.
After all, if Thesan, an investment company, doesn’t want to invest in the team anymore and rather sells it, then why would any other company be interested in a team which is always at the back of the grid, and after three years still hasn’t made any significant progress — and is still struggling to stay alive?
Certainly not a Spanish company, and Spanish banks won’t be able to help HRT either as they themselves already have huge problems and even need money from the European Union to survive.
But since the Formula One circus has arrived in Austin, Texas, and the American fans and many people in Formula One, including FOM CEO Bernie Ecclestone and FIA President Jean Todt, would like to see American drivers in Formula One, this could be a heck of an opportunity for the Americans to buy a complete Formula One team for just 40 million Euro!