HRT to beat Lotus and Virgin by May - owner

By on Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mar.31 (GMM) HRT failed to qualify after an embarrassing display in Australia, but owner Jose Ramon Carabante insists the Spanish team will be beating rivals Virgin and Lotus by May.

He confessed that the Melbourne debacle, where mechanics spent the official practice sessions cobbling together the F111 which ultimately fell outside the 107 per cent qualifying rule, was due to financial problems.

"If we had the budget of the other teams, we would have come to the first race of the season with 3,000 kilometres under the belt.

"But like last year, we began the development of the car too late due to the budget. We were closing (sponsor) agreements that in the end did not come," he explained in Spanish on Cadena Ser radio.

Carabante admits that a technical deal regarding 2011 with Toyota was "broken" at a late stage: "So we set a realistic goal with the budget that we had."

Revealing that HRT's budget for this year is EUR 45 million, he said the team's showing in Australia was an achievement.

"We did 11 laps with Liuzzi. If he had done 20, he would have qualified. Getting within 1.7 seconds without driving hardly at all is a miracle," insisted Carabante.

The team plans to have its 2011-spec front nose on the car in Malaysia, and Carabante said a whole "new aerodynamic package" will be fitted for May's Spanish grand prix.

"It will be enough to be ahead of Lotus and Virgin," he said. "Last year we were in a worse condition than now and we ended up ahead of Virgin with twice our budget, and behind Lotus due only to one accident."

He also reacted to the strong criticisms of HRT, nothing that for example he has "not read a single criticism of Virgin in the English press".

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