HRT: Looking to build in 2012

By on Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Photo credit: HRT

HRT has had a difficult birth into Formula One. Over two seasons, the team has failed to score a point and is generally viewed as the twelfth best team on the grid, despite finishing eleventh in both 2010 and 2011.

After the fiasco of Campos Meta over the winter of 2009/10, Colin Kolles stepped in and effectively saved the team from oblivion. The saga involving Jose Ramon Carabante has blown over as new owners Thespan Capital look to create a Spanish team, starting in 2012.

The team has signed Pedro de La Rosa on a two year deal (although it has never been stated that he will be driving for the entirety of that period) and there are several other projects in the pipeline.

Director general of the team, Saul Ruiz de Marcos, told Spanish journalists that the team is planning to rebuild and shake off the moniker of ‘Hispania’.

"While we had a team that went to the races, we created another, very wisely and quietly," He said. "As the season ends, the cars come to headquarters in Valencia, where 45 people have gathered. Collin Kolles is now the team leader, but other than that had many other contracts. Kolles is currently team leader only, because everything else is on us: the trucks are ours, our headquarters too. Right now, the team is fully Spanish. "We stopped calling ourselves Hispania because the team was Hispania Group, and we could not use that name. The name of the chassis is HRT, and we are comfortable with that name. The decoupling means we have 100 per cent of the shares to which we want add separate projects.

Marcos also explained the integration of British and Spanish team members.

Photo credit: HRT

"Additionally, we are trying to do something very good in terms of mechanics. For example, if we have a number one mechanic who has experience in F1 and is English, we would usually make his number two Spanish. We do it for two reasons: to make everything more Spanish, but also, if the mechanic would return to England or something similar, the Spanish mechanic, who is younger, would have enough experience to replace him with guarantees.

"I estimate that, by early next year, 60-70 per cent of people who work with us will be Spanish. And I think it good to have 30-40 per cent of people outside. Also, this may be a magnet for Spanish people right now that may be on other computers, as has happened with Pedro, who is stepping down at McLaren to come here."

The signing of a Spanish driver, coupled with the move towards greater Spanish staff numbers underlines the team’s mission to improve.

Marcos also explained why HRT chose de La Rosa to lead the team forward.

"The choice of Pedro was a cornerstone for us from the beginning. Not only is he a good driver, but he is also a person with your head full of knowledge, and that helps us a lot. His experience at McLaren, which for me is the best team in terms of professionalism, efficiency and discipline, can be very important.
"His years with engineers in Woking can be very useful to us. For example, if you see that our engineers are drawing a spoiler and he sees a way that McLaren is another, well maybe two months it takes engineers to work without being an engineer."

Last month, GP2 driver Dani Clos tested with the team. Marcos also added that the young Spaniard will have an involvement with the squad.

"I think Dani is thinking more in GP2 for next year, but in one way or another will always be linked to the team. During the races, he will be by the 'box' and our motorhome; we want to be a shelter for the Spanish."

Marcos also revealed that HRT will announce De La Rosa’s team mate in two or three weeks’ time, with 2011 duo Tonio Liuzzi and Narain Karthikeyan thought to be contenders.


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