By Berthold Bouman
After the demise of the HRT team, Pedro de la Rosa has found a new job at the famous Scuderia Ferrari as test driver, and on Friday it was his turn to test the Ferrari F138, the Scuderia’s 2013 contender.
De la Rosa will spend most of his time in the simulator this season, but last Friday he was in the real Ferrari F138, as he needs a benchmark for his work in the simulator. Unfortunately, his day was cut short after just two laps.
There was a problem with the gearbox and de la Rosa had to park his smoking Ferrari along the track, the problem was fixed just in time for the afternoon session and he was able to complete 51 laps on the Circuito de Jerez in his native Spain.
“All in all it’s been a positive day for me, I finally got a feel for the car and that will be very important when it comes to comparing the data with the simulator as we develop the car,” de la Rosa commented after the test.
Pedro de la Rosa and Andrea Stella – Photo: Ferrari
About his new job at Ferrari he remarked, “We are not yet where we want to be on our simulation and there will be a lot of work to do, but that’s why I’ve been taken on and in my own small way I hope to do my best to contribute to the progress of the Scuderia.”
And he added, “I had a lot of mixed feelings today: I was very excited to drive the car but when I got out after the first two laps I was not exactly happy. All my life I’ve been waiting for an opportunity like this and to see it end after just a few corners was definitely not nice, especially because I wasn’t sure that we would be able to continue with the programme.”
The next pre-season test days will be at the Spanish Circuit de Catalunya in Spain on February 19-22, but then Fernando Alonso will be at the wheel of the Ferrari F138.
By Berthold Bouman
Ferrari President Luca Cordera di Montezemolo defined the new F138 Formula One car as ‘hopeful’. “Yesterday afternoon, I saw it and I defined it as ‘hopeful’, because I noted plenty of attention to detail, especially in areas where aerodynamics are key,” said the flamboyant Italian.
Why does he have the hope the car will be competitive right from the first race of the season? “The answer is threefold,” said Montezemolo, “Firstly, because of the obsessively detailed review of the past season, secondly, the major changes to the organisation and work methodology and thirdly, the concentration on just one wind tunnel, which will be important, especially throughout this season.”
He again made it clear he wants more testing in Formula One, “Track testing is not available to us, something many would like to see reintroduced, so we have concentrated more on simulation tools. Bringing an experienced driver like De la Rosa to Maranello is part of this strategy and attention to detail.”
He also explained why Fernando Alonso didn’t take part in testing at Jerez next week. “The decision not to run Fernando in the first week at Jerez was dictated by the wish to allow him to stick to a very precise physical training programme. However, for the Barcelona test, attention will switch to performance, which is why Fernando will start then, rather than the first few days,” he said.
Stefano Domenical and the new Ferrari F138 – Photo: Ferrari
Also Team Principal Stefano Domenicali made it clear Ferrari wants to be competitive right from the start, “There are areas of development on the car which will be very important, from now until the end of the year. We have a clear goal, which is to give Fernando and Felipe [Massa] a competitive car, at the highest level.”
And there’s no time for mistakes he said, “Our approach from the first race on must be the right one and we must be mentally ready to deal with very tense moments. We definitely don’t want to find ourselves having to fight like last year to close down a 1.6 second gap to the fastest [team].”
Domenicali is adamant his team will be able to solve problems if they should arise during the start of the season, “If we come up against surprises in the early part of the season, we will try and stay focused, prioritising the reasons why things have not gone as expected.”
Nikolas Tombazis, Ferrari’s Chief Designer, is also certain his team will have a ‘strong package’ at the start of the season, as a result of the recent changes within the Ferrari organisation, “The recent reorganisation of the team after a couple of disappointing seasons had an impact on my position when it became clear that there were too many demands on my time overseeing both the mechanical and aerodynamic aspects,” Tombazis said.
And he explained, “Over the last few years, Formula One has become ever more sophisticated so one person can no longer do every single thing.” Ferrari is this year using the Toyota wind tunnel in Cologne, Germany, as Ferrari’s own wind tunnel will get a major upgrade after almost 12 years of service.
Tombazis explained the dilemma Ferrari faced, “The ideal situation would be to have the wind tunnel right here and I cannot say that using a wind tunnel in Cologne is the perfect solution, but weighing up the medium and long-term advantages of having an upgrade on our wind tunnel or carrying on as it was, we concluded that our current strategy was the best.”
Although he is confident Ferrari is ready for the 2013 season, he refused to make any predictions. “Recent years have taught me not to say too much too early, so let’s wait and see what answer we get from the track. I think we have done a reasonable job and we certainly had to make a step up from where we had been in the past few years,” he said.
The Ferrari designer wants to see the results of the first tests of the season before he gives the F138 the final verdict, but he said, “I believe we will have a strong package for the third test and first race.”
By Berthold Bouman
Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso is not at all worried about missing the first pre-season test days at Jerez next week. Felipe Massa and new test driver Pedro de la Rosa will be at the wheel of the new Ferrari F138, but Alonso is adamant he made the right decision.
“I will follow the tests with great interest and all the information that comes back from Jerez of course I will be looking at,” said the Spanish driver who was runner-up in the race for the 2012 Formula One World Championship.
Alonso not worried about skipping first pre-season test days at Jerez – Photo: Ferrari
But he won’t stay home either, amongst other things he will intensify his physical training, “In these last few weeks and in the next few weeks I will certainly be concentrating on preparing for the championship.”
“We were very busy in December and I was very much involved with the car in January up until a week ago, so I think it’s right to step back and prepare a bit so that I’m 100% from Australia right through to Brazil.”
He’s also confident Massa and de la Rosa will properly test the new F138, “Also, we are very lucky in this team because we trust each other implicitly, and within the extended team Pedro and Felipe are the same because we are just one person.”
Alonso will get behind the wheel of the F138 for the first time during the second pre-season testing days at Barcelona, which will start on February 19 at de Circuit de Catalunya.
By Berthold Bouman
New Ferrari to be named F138
Ferrari just couldn’t wait to reveal the name of their 2013 car, and today announced the car will be named … F138, and not as one would expect, F2013. But the Reds had pretty good reasons to change the name of their 2013 contender.
In a statement Ferrari said, “The name of the fifty-ninth car built by Ferrari to compete at the highest level of motor sport derives from a combination of the current year and the number of cylinders, partly to mark the fact that this will be the last year that the V8 engine configuration will be used in Formula One, bringing to an end what will be an eight year career.”
“With its fifty-eight previous cars, the Scuderia is the only team to have taken part in every year of the championship and holds all the records in terms of titles won (31; 15 Drivers’ and 16 Constructors’), Grand Prix wins (219), pole positions (207), and fastest race laps (228).”
Ferrari will unveil its 2013 car on Friday February 1 in Maranello, Italy. View the complete launch schedule here.
Pedro de la Rosa will also test the F138 at Jerez
Not only Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso will be at the wheel of the F138 during the first testing days in Jerez, also Pedro de la Rosa, who joined the team as test driver, will be behind the wheel.
Pedro de la Rosa will also test the F138 in Jerez – Photo: Ferrari
“I’m starting a new phase of my life: for a driver it’s important to work with the big teams, especially because you can learn from the best engineers and professionals in this sport. I am proud that Ferrari had faith in me, especially as it means I will be able to help a Spanish champion, in the shape of Fernando Alonso,” de la Rosa said.
About the Ferrari team the Spaniard said, “I can say that, at least once in your life, you have to go to Maranello. I’m not talking about the factory, but rather the city: it’s there that you start to understand the difference between a team like Ferrari and all the others, because you already feel as though you are pretty much within the company. Every restaurant, bar or person on the street has something red, it’s really impressive.”
De la Rosa will be in the car on February 8, and he is already looking forward to it. “I’ve seen the new car in the factory, as it is being prepared for the first test,” he said. “I am very happy to be able to test it and honestly I had not expected that. It’s a unique opportunity to begin to understand how the car works and how I can help with the work in the simulator.”
Alessandro Zanardi visits Ferrari’s headquarters
Italian racing driver and Paralympic gold medal winner Alessandro Zanardi paid an unexpected visit to the Ferrari headquarters in Maranello yesterday, where he was allowed to take a peek at the department where the new F138 takes shape.
The Ferrari mechanics who are still working to get the car ready for Friday’s launch ceremony, posed with Zanardi, who lost both his legs during a near-fatal accident in the US Champ Car Series in 2001.
“It was a very exciting evening for me,” said Zanardi who also visited his friend Ferrari Team Principal Stefano Domenicali. “The thing that struck me the most when I went into the department where the new car was being built, was the smell, the same I used to smell when I went to the Chip Ganassi team headquarters in America. There too the car was red, but it definitely wasn’t a Ferrari!”
Zanardi had never been at the Maranello factory before and said, “I know many of the guys who work at the Scuderia from a long time ago, but this was my first time in Maranello and it was a great experience. Finally, I can claim to have got my hands on a Red car!”
And he added, “It’s true that these days, the top teams are pretty big, just like a real average-sized company, but at Ferrari, I could see there was still that passion for the job that only comes with a love of racing. Then, thinking back to how nice was the tortellini and cold cuts of meat, you can imagine what a great evening it was, without any regrets about breaking the rules regarding my diet!”
By Berthold Bouman
During a press meeting in Madonna di Campiglio Ferrari Team Principal Stefano Domenicali said winning the 2013 title is the ultimate goal of the Maranello-based team.
Earlier this month it was announced that Ferrari had split the design teams, one team will be working on the 2013 car, and the other team will work on the 2014 car, while Nicolas Tombazis continues as Chief Designer.
“The 2013 season will be a complex one from many points of view,” said Domenicali. “We face a few changes on the technical front which will have a significant impact on all areas of the company, not just in terms of design, but also when it comes to the investment and infrastructure required to develop the new engine,” the Italian team boss explained.
The 2013 car is currently being tested in the Cologne-based wind tunnel originally build for the Toyota Formula One team, as Ferrari is rebuilding their wind tunnel in Maranello. “Our aim is clear, to win and the priority is still that of giving our drivers a car that will be competitive right from the very start. The development of the 2013 car began in the Cologne wind tunnel and is ongoing,” said Domenicali.
Earlier this month Domenicali said Ferrari will not suffer a repeat of their 2012 testing troubles. “What happened to us last year in the first winter test in Jerez, will not happen to us this year, because we are now sure that the wind tunnel gives us no more surprises,” he said. Ferrari experienced problems with their wind tunnel last year, as the results in the wind tunnel could not be replicated on track, the reason Ferrari will use the Toyota wind tunnel until their own wind tunnel has been completely rebuilt.
Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa
Domenicali is confident Felipe Massa will be at the front of the field this season and help Ferrari to clinch the title, “Personally, there was a lot of pressure on me regarding possible changes, but in the interests of the team, I preferred to wait and today, I’m convinced that keeping Felipe in the Ferrari family was the right decision.”
“His performance in the second half of the season contributed significantly to our second place in the Constructors’ classification: for the team that is a strong point and for Fernando, it provides further impetus to try even harder.”
About Ferrari’s star driver Fernando Alonso he said, “His strength as a champion and his great fighting spirit is a guarantee for himself and for the team: our responsibility is to give him a car with which he can make the most of his abilities and his killer instinct.”
Domenicali also dismissed the usual rumours about Sebastian Vettel joining the Reds in the future, “I think our President has already commented on this subject several times: a dream team is fantastic if it is correctly managed, but at the moment we are not looking at that, because we want to ensure the team is as well-balanced as possible.”
About the criticism aimed at Alonso he remarked, “As usual, there are people who try and stir up the politics, believing they will provoke a reaction, but I am deaf to these things and I believe Fernando is totally focused on his performance, while I can assure you that the team will give its answer on the track, with deeds, not words!”
Pedro de la Rosa joins Ferrari
Certainly good news for Alonso’s compatriot Pedro de la Rosa, who was left without a drive after the demise of the Spanish HRT team. The Spaniard will join Ferrari as a development driver, and will spend a lot of time in the simulator. He will also be involved in technical, racing and commercial activities.
“We decided to add de La Rosa to our group of drivers mainly to strengthen one area, namely work in the simulator, which with the current regulations regarding testing, is becoming ever more important,” Domenicali said today in Madonna di Campiglio.
De la Rosa said about his new job, “It is amazingly motivating to be working for a team like Ferrari, not just because of what it represents in the history of Formula One and motoring in general, but also because it will be a completely new and very stimulating experience for me.” And he added, “I really hope I can get to work as soon as possible and to help in the development of the car.”
Video: Wrooom 2013 – Relaxing in the snow
By Berthold Bouman
Pedro de la Rosa is currently unemployed, as his HRT team didn’t find a buyer in time, and, although there has not been an official statement, it seems the Spanish adventure in Formula One is over for good. “It is time to turn the page, and look to the future,” de la Rosa told the Spanish Marca magazine.
“But,” he admitted, “It is true, I am a realist and everything that has happened [lately] has been very unpleasant for everyone who works at HRT.” Asked whether it is really over for the Spanish outfit de la Rosa said, “I don’t know, I’m just the driver, and there has not been an official notification, but the feeling we all have is that the project will not continue and I’m already looking for a job for the coming year.”
About his time with HRT he said, “I have given it everything. If I hadn’t given it the full one hundred percent I’d probably feel guilty, or have sleepless nights, but that is not the case.”
Being the star driver of the team, does he feel cheated by the final outcome of the whole endeavour? “No, it was an ambitious project, I’m not a quitter, we all worked very hard, but in the end we are all responsible for this failure.”
De la Rosa thinks it was a missed opportunity for his native Spain. “That’s another sad thing about this project, we will never have a Spanish Formula One team again,” he said, and he explained, “I don’t think we’ll see another Spanish team, when we started the conditions were exactly right, with a driver like Fernando Alonso there was a great national interest in the sport. I don’t think we’ll find the same conditions again on a short or medium term, it will be very difficult.”
He also blamed the economic recession for the demise of the team, “It has affected Formula One and has especially affected Spanish companies, but that is something that we can not choose, who would have thought that the crisis would turn out to be so sour and so deep? It is very difficult to enter Formula One supporting a Spanish team when the situation in your company and your country is so bad.”
But de la Rosa has no regrets, “I have seen all kinds of teams and people, very small, medium and large teams, and this year has been very enriching for me, I’ve seen how one suffers, how one struggles to survive with one-tenth of the budget of most other teams. However, it has been a very nice experience.”
Could he return to McLaren to take up his previous position as test and reserve driver again? “I already left the team twice, so the door won’t be wide open for me. I have been unfaithful and so, I start from zero and it is normal. I am confident that I will continue in Formula One as a test or reserve driver; I will continue with a steering wheel in my hands, but there are no guarantees.”
Therefore it seems it is definitely over for the Spanish team, who never scored a point in Formula One, but they did have the drive, the people, and the passion for the sport. It is also a fact the other two newcomers in Formula One, Marussia and Caterham, didn’t score a single point in their three-year existence either, and as Caterham’s Tom Webb said on Twitter, “Many friends from HRT are now looking for jobs & you couldn’t find more dedicated, passionate, hard-working people. Buena suerte mi amigos!”
And last but not least: HRT has actually become the victim of the bigger teams and the failing FIA policy regarding the spending of teams. The teams have not been very cooperative when it comes to the infamous budget cap, initially endorsed by ex-FIA President Max Mosley, but shelved by current FIA President Jean Todt. Today, Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull still spend at least ten times more than the smaller teams and the budget cap seems further away than ever.
There is an old saying in Formula One: Speed costs money, how fast do you want to go?
All photos: HRT
By Berthold Bouman
Only 22 cars are on the official 2013 entry list published by the FIA yesterday, as the HRT team is missing from the list. The Spanish outfit originally founded by Spanish ex-Formula One driver Adrian Campos also failed to pay the 500,000 Euro entry fee. Last month the team was put up for sale by current owner Thesan Capital and in a press release said that they were ‘in talks with a number of groups interested in buying the team’.
HRT have been struggling from day one. The team was originally owned by Campos Meta, then bought by Spanish entrepreneur Jose Ramon Carabante and last year sold to Thesan, who now apparently have failed to find a new buyer for the financially stricken team. Although there have been no official statements from Thesan or any of the HRT staff, it seems only 22 cars will appear at the start of the 2013 Australian Grand Prix.
Not only the names of HRT drivers Pedro de la Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan are missing from the list, but other teams still have to complete their 2013 driver line-up. Romain Grosjean is not named as second Lotus driver, also the names of the Sauber, Force India, Toro Rosso, Caterham and Marussia drivers are missing from the list.
Sauber recently officially confirmed Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Gutierrez, Toro Rosso confirmed Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne for 2013, while former Marussia driver Charles Pic has signed a multi-year contract with Caterham. Those names have been added to the list below.
2013 Provisional Entry List Car Driver Nat Team 01 Sebastian Vettel GER Red Bull-Renault 02 Mark Webber AUS Red Bull-Renault 03 Fernando Alonso ESP Ferrari 04 Felipe Massa BRA Ferrai 05 Jenson Button GBR McLaren-Mercedes 06 Sergio Perez MEX McLaren-Mercedes 07 Kimi Raikkonen FIN Lotus-Renault 08 TBA -- Lotus-Renault 09 Nico Rosberg GER Mercedes 10 Lewis Hamilton GBR Mercedes 11 Nico Hulkenberg GER Sauber-Ferrari 12 Esteban Gutierriez MEX Sauber-Ferrari 14 TBA -- Force India-Mercedes 15 TBA -- Force India-Mercedes 16 Pastor Maldonado VEN Williams-Renault 17 Valtteri Bottas FIN Williams Renault 18 Daniel Ricciardo AUS Toro Rosso-Ferrari 19 Jean-Eric Vergne FRA Toro Rosso Ferrari 20 TBA -- Caterham-Renault 21 Charles Pic FRA Caterham-Renault 22 TBA -- Marussia-Cosworth 23 TBA -- Marussia-Cosworth
By Berthold Bouman
HRT driver Pedro de la Rosa is apparently unfazed by the news that his team was put up for sale by owner Thesan Capital, a Spanish investment company. The Spanish outfit is for sale for 40 million Euro, if the team can’t find a buyer before December 2, it could be all over, there have been rumours part of the staff has already been dismissed.
Quizzed during today’s FIA press conference at the Circuit of the Americas about the situation with HRT, de la Rosa said, “Well, unfortunately there’s not much I can say really. It’s a corporate decision, which I’m not involved in.”
But he assured his fans he will do everything he can during the final two races of the season, “All I can say is, we are here, that there are two Grands Prix to go and no matter what’s going on in the background, we will give it 100 per cent like we’ve always done.
“No matter in which position we fight and who we fight against we will do a professional job. We are here to do that and there are two very interesting Grands Prix left. Hopefully there’s some more retirements than in the last few races, even more and we can achieve a good result.”
Spanish media yesterday reported there were growing concerns about safety issues related to the lack of personnel and lack of spare parts, but when asked about it de la Rosa said, “It’s something that I’m not aware of and it’s the first news comes from you. All I can say is that we might be modest, we are small and we are what we are — but we are a professional Formula One team and for sure when we start running it’s because the car is safe.”
“I’m experienced enough to … you know, I would never jump into an unsafe car because of parts being too old. So no, the answer is, the car is slow but it’s safe.”
Regardless of his team’s financial problems, the Spaniard was enthusiastic about the brand-new circuit, “I’ve just been doing a lap, just walking around [referring to the traditional track walk on Thursday morning].
“I don’t know much apart from this lap. It looks fantastic … a very difficult track, with very big gradient changes and very challenging because most of the corners, the apexes are blind. So let’s see tomorrow, but it’s one of those tracks that you can say it’s going to be difficult and challenging.”
Meanwhile, HRT has announced in a press statement Chinese driver Ma Qing Hua will be taking over Narain Karthikeyan’s car during the first free practice session tomorrow morning, which has fuelled the speculations he might have found sufficient Chinese financial backing to get a race seat at HRT next year, if the team survives that is.
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!
By Berthold Bouman
Just ahead of the United States Grand Prix, HRT owner Spanish investment company Thesan Capital has said in a statement the Spanish outfit is for sale, and are currently ‘in talks with a number of groups interested in buying the team’.
The statement further read, “HRT Formula 1 Team’s current management hopes to conclude the sale in the upcoming weeks and, with it, enable the team to continue progressing and become a reference in modern-day Formula 1 after the important achievements already accomplished in this 2012 season. HRT Formula 1 Team hopes to communicate the name of its new owner in the upcoming weeks.”
The Spanish team has been in financial troubles ever since the team was founded in 2009. In February 2010 founder and ex-Formula One driver Adrian Campos was forced to sell his team to Spanish businessman José Ramón Carabante, who already had a majority stake in the team.
In July 2011 Carabante sold his stake to the Madrid-based Thesan Capital, who wanted to give the team a Spanish base, and in February 2012 the team moved their headquarters to the Caja Mágica complex in Madrid.
In the statement HRT said, “We believe the moment to let new investors come through for HRT Formula 1 Team has arrived. We’re very proud of the work done by the entire team and of the excellent sporting evolution achieved but the time has come for the team to continue growing with new financial backing. We’re convinced that the sporting potential of the team is huge and that the presence of new investors can give it a big boost.”
Team members and Team Principal Luis Perez-Sala have so far not given their reaction on the news, nor did drivers Pedro de la Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan.
By Berthold Bouman
HRT is looking forward to the United States Grand Prix this weekend at the Circuit of the Americas, but like all other teams, they will be heading for uncharted territory, and according to Team Principal Luis Perez-Sala, adapting to the new circuit will be crucial.
“Once again we’re heading to an unknown circuit, so the key will be to learn the circuit and adapt as quickly as possible. All we know about this circuit is what the simulation department, who have been working on it for some time, have put across to us,” he said.
And he added, “According to them it’s a very complete and spectacular track and that gives us extra motivation to face this penultimate test of the season.”
Veteran driver Pedro de la Rosa knows how to tackle the challenges of a new circuit, but he also said, “The truth is we don’t know much about this circuit. All I know about it is from what I’ve seen on the Internet. The first thing that strikes you about this track is the number of gradient changes and how extreme they are.”
But he also reckons the Pirelli tyres will play an important role this weekend, “The important thing is for our car to adapt well to this circuit and we will dedicate Friday to learning the track and setting up the car. The choice of medium and hard tyres seems, on paper, an election of quite hard compounds. But until we don’t confirm the grip of the asphalt it will be difficult to draw any conclusions”.
Narain Karthikeyan is impressed by the circuit layout, “The Circuit of the Americas looks like a promising layout, lots of parts from different circuits around the world but what I’m looking forward to most is the massively uphill Turn One. These gradient changes do well to add to the circuit’s character as we’ve seen in India so it is going to be a challenging layout.”
And practice makes perfect as the Indian driver added, “So as a driver, it would be up to us to do the maximum number of laps possible on Friday to learn the circuit and get the base set-up right and then take it from there.”
Perez-Sala is confident his team will perform well during the final two races of the season, “It’s been an intense end of year but I’m confident that we can finish off on a good note which will enable us to make a positive overall assessment of this special season.”
By Berthold Bouman
HRT are looking to maintain their reliability and progress during round 14 of the FIA Formula One World Championship, the Singapore Grand Prix. Unknown territory for the team, as only Narain Karthikeyan has acquired some experience on the circuit last year.
“I don’t personally know the Marina Bay Street Circuit but I’m really looking forward to getting to know it since everyone says it’s one of the most beautiful races in the Championship,” said Team Principal Luis Perez-Sala.
And HRT has an important upgrade for the Asian races, “In Singapore we’re incorporating the second major upgrade to the car of the season which we hope will help us take another step forward.”
Spanish driver Pedro de la Rosa is looking forward to the event, “I’ve never raced at Singapore but I know the circuit because of my simulator work as a test driver for McLaren. It’s a spectacular track and probably the toughest circuit on the brakes in the entire Championship besides being a very physically demanding race because of the heat and humidity.”
And he further commented, “We should have a good performance as there are many slow corners and it is quite similar to Monaco. Besides, we’ve got an aero upgrade which should help us to cut down the gap to our rivals. I have to make the most of the practice session to adapt to the circuit but I’m up for the challenge.”
Karthikeyan said about the circuit, “The Marina Bay Street Circuit is bumpy and very complicated. You can’t make any mistakes as it is a street circuit. Besides, it’s also very demanding physically because of the high temperatures and humidity.”
Chinese driver Ma Qing Hua will be in the car on Friday morning for the second time. “It will be very exciting to drive a F1 around the streets of Singapore. It’s a very demanding track for all of us, but it will be even more of a challenge for me as this is only the second time I will be driving the car at a race weekend,” said the young driver.
“This is yet again another step in my career and I look forward to getting more experience at the wheel of a Formula 1 car as well as doing my best to help the team to prepare for the race,” he added.
HRT are still the slowest team on the grid, but the Spanish outfit has certainly made progress, and they are looking to beat the Marussia team, who lately have encountered problems that could give HRT the chance they need to finish ahead of the Russian sponsored team.
By Berthold Bouman
HRT has like all other teams enjoyed a well-deserved summer break this month, and the Spanish outfit is ready for the 12th round of the FIA Formula One World Championship, the Belgian Grand Prix at the famous Spa-Francorchamps circuit, the favourite track of many drivers.
“We’ve all returned full of energy from the holidays and I personally arrive in my best physical condition of the season and really looking forward to taking on the second half of the championship,” said Spanish driver Pedro de la Rosa.
De la Rosa also likes the track, “Spa is one of the drivers’ favourite tracks; it’s spectacular and difficult, not only because of the type of corners but also because of the weather, since one part of the track can be dry whilst another is wet, so you have to be able to adapt quickly. We’re going to use the same medium downforce that worked so well in Canada so we hope to perform well despite the large amount of high-speed corners.”
Narain Karthikeyan also has good memories of the track and he loves it as well. “Even though a lot of run-off has been added over the years, it still has some of the most challenging corners on the calendar,” said the Indian driver.
And he added, “And then there’s the classic Spa weather which nearly always plays a part in the final result. We’ll be using the same medium rear wing which worked well in Canada so we hope it goes well in Spa and aim to maintain our progress throughout the second part of the championship.”
Dani Clos will be behind the wheel again on Friday morning, and the Spaniard is looking forward to another outing in the F112, “Once again I have a chance to step into the car and work for the team and that fills me with satisfaction. For me it is really important to stay active and be able to continue growing alongside my team mates Pedro and Narain.”
Team Principal Luis Perez-Sala also enjoyed his holiday and is ready to roll again. “After the summer we head into the Belgian Grand Prix with a lot of hunger and desire. We’re starting the second part of the championship and we will try to continue in the same manner as the first part and improve,” said the Spaniard.
About the circuit he commented, “It is a medium-downforce circuit and the temperatures aren’t extreme so we shouldn’t have any reliability issues. The weather is always unpredictable in Spa so we have to be ready to take on any situation”.
By Berthold Bouman
HRT driver Narain Karthikeyan wants to improve his qualifying pace he said in a by HRT conducted interview. “In qualifying I’ve been a bit weaker. Right now I’m about three tenths behind Pedro [de la Rosa] and that’s something I have to improve in this second half, no doubt about it,” said the Indian.
Karthikeyan also hailed his team colleague, veteran Pedro de la Rosa, “Pedro is a fantastic driver with a lot of experience; he’s very consistent but also quick. The tyres have been quite difficult to get used to and Pedro has a lot of experience with Pirelli and McLaren. He’s a very good driver who hardly makes mistakes and I must learn from him to improve.”
Compared to de la Rosa, the 35-year old Karthikeyan is relatively inexperienced, but he is certainly not a rookie. He started his Formula One career seven years ago in 2005 when he signed a deal with Eddie Jordan to drive for the Irishman’s Jordan Grand Prix outfit, partnering Portuguese driver Tiago Monteiro. Karthikeyan scored his first points during the controversial 2005 United States Grand Prix, he finished fourth after all teams except Ferrari, Jordan and Minardi withdrew from the race after problems with the Michelin tyres.
2005 was a reasonable season for Karthikeyan, although he crashed very hard during the last race of the year, the Chinese Grand Prix. He was unhurt and finished the season in 18th place of the Drivers’ Championship with 5 points. Jordan was forced to sell his team at the end of 2005 due to financial problems, and the new owner dumped Karthikeyan, and it looked like his Formula One career was over.
But in 2011 he made a come-back for the HRT team, and although he was replaced by Daniel Ricciardo after the European Grand Prix, he was allowed to drive during the inaugural Indian Grand Prix later that season. But at the end of the year the new owners of HRT decided to keep him for the 2012 season and thus the Indian has now officially 39 Grands Prix behind his belt.
Asked about his best race during the first half of the season he answered, “Probably Monaco. Pedro had a very good qualifying session and I had a very good race, finishing 15th. I think that, from the team’s perspective, Monaco has been the best race so far.”
When quizzed about what he would consider a successful season he commented, “From where we are now, it would be great to match and beat my team mate Pedro who has been a good benchmark. Added to that, if we finish ahead of Marussia in the championship standings that would be a successful season!”
Of course, Formula One is now on a summer break, and asked about his holiday plans Karthikeyan said, “I’m not really taking a holiday now because I’ve got a lot of activities to attend, so I’ll have to wait until the championship ends. I hope to have a small gap to spend some time with my family in India and train hard. So I will work on my fitness in the gym and come back ready to continue at the highest level.”
By Berthold Bouman
HRT Team Principal and former Formula One driver Luis Perez-Sala is happy with the achievements of his HRT team during the first half of the season. A lot of things have changed at the Spanish outfit, as they changed almost the entire team, contracted a new Team Principal, Perez-Sala, moved their headquarters to the capital of Spain, Madrid, and at the same time had to build a car for the 2012 season.
Asked about the move to Madrid the Spaniard replied, “It was a very ambitious challenge, a priori it was impossible to accomplish, but we’ve made it with very limited resources. Once we settled in, from April and May onwards, we started to get a race rhythm going. It’s safe to say we’ve encountered some very intense months where the team has given its all, because we’ve been able to carry out everything we set out to do.”
He also praised the team’s personnel for their commitment. “What I would say is that the most rewarding thing has been to see the commitment of everyone implicated in this project. These people have been united in very difficult moments and have shown bravery, honour and responsibility to continue supporting this project in the toughest moments,” he said, adding, “It’s not easy to work and perform to the best of your ability having not slept much, being away from home for weeks or going through uncomfortable journeys, but the members of this team have done it, and that’s something to be thankful for.“
Although it was a tough start of the season as HRT failed to qualify for the first round of the season, the Australian Grand Prix, HRT certainly made progress thanks to the F112. “I think that, overall, the F112 is a car that has given quite a good result, keeping in mind how it started. In winter I had a lot of doubts, because the car was handed to us and we didn’t have enough time to review it,” said Perez-Sala.
Asked whether the full potential of the car has been unlocked he stated, “The car has given good results. It has a good base and that’s its biggest strength. It’s a reliable car with good mechanical resistance and it offers a lot of possibilities for its development. I’d say we’re at 50% of its potential and we can still extract another 50%, mainly in aerodynamics.”
Perez-Sala admitted it is difficult for a small team to come up with upgrades every two weeks like the big teams do, but HRT does have an upgrade for the car after the summer break. “We have some upgrades prepared for the Singapore Grand Prix. As a small team we can’t afford small upgrades every two or three races because the cost of an upgrade or creating a new piece for a small upgrade is very high.”
And he further explained, “Besides the aerodynamic study, you have to produce the parts and that also implies a lot of time. So we have to make the most of any changes and have a very clear idea of the direction we want to take for those upgrades to be productive.”
Asked what HRT needs to call 2012 a successful season he was clear, “For me it would be a success to maintain the reliability we have and improve our performance a little bit more. To achieve this I hope that the aero package that we will introduce after the summer will help us to take the next step.”
And he added, “The objective is to stay between the 104 and 105 per cent [of the fastest car] and have the project for 2013 prepared. If we achieve all of this I’d be satisfied. Besides I hope that the team is fully functioning, with the design and aerodynamics department working at the Caja Mágica, although to achieve this we need a bit more time.”
And finally, asked about his pans during the summer break he said, “I’m staying with my family in Spain and we’re going to spend some days by the beach and others in the mountains. I’m really looking forward to spending some time with them and to disconnect to gain some strength because we’ve got a great end to the season ahead.”