Ferrari covered the most ground in pre-season testing in 2010, racking up 7,353km.
But HRT’s Dallara-designed F110 hadn’t even turned a wheel when they arrived at Bahrain for the first race of the season.
It took until the Canadian Grand Prix – round eight – for them to cover the same distance at race weekends Ferrari had in testing. With that sort of disadvantage, it’s remarkable the team ended the year in anywhere other than last place.
But despite little development on a chassis that was typically a second behind the next slowest car, a chronic shortage of funds and a revolving door driver policy, HRT managed to finish ahead of Virgin in the constructors’ championship.
|Best race result (number)
|Best grid position (number)
|Laps completed (% of total)
|Laps led (% of total)
|Championship position (2009)
|Championship points (2009*)
|*using 2010 system
The car that was originally expected to be called a Campos Meta was revealed to the world just eight days before first practice in Bahrain.
While Bruno Senna managed a handful of laps on that first day, team mate Karun Chandhok’s car was still being finished. His season didn’t begin until the start of qualifying on Saturday.
Despite their lack of preparation Chandhok saw the chequered flag in the next race at Melbourne. He may have been in last place but that 14th was decisive at the end of the season as it kept HRT ahead of fellow newcomers Virgin in the championship.
Progress was very slow at the team. Little in the way of upgrades arrived for the car. The most significant external change came when the team had to fit regular mirrors to replace the sidepod-mounted ones that were banned by the FIA.
Even at Monza the F110 turned out with the same aerodynamic package it had for the other races.
This was just one of many manifestations of the team’s shortage of funds. Then came the abrupt changes to the driver line-up.
Senna was dropped for Sakon Yamamoto on the eve of the British Grand Prix. The Brazilian returned in Chandhok’s place at the next round.
Yamamoto then disappeared at Singapore – allegedly due to ill-health – only to return for his home race. Christian Klien took Yamamoto’s place at Singapore and for the final two races of the year.
It smacked of rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic – the only way this car was ever going to finish in the top ten was if 13 other cars retired.
HRT split from Dallara in May and just last week Toyota Motorsport announced they would no longer be offering support to the team, leaving doubt over how they might develop and build a car for next season.
On the up-side, the team announced a technical tie-up with Williams to use their gearboxes and hired ex-Telefonica executive Juan Villalonga to bring some badly-needed sponsorship to the team.
But with none of their four regular drivers appearing in post-season testing for the team it’s anyone’s guess whether they’ll be back on the grid in 2011.
HRT’s 2010 season in pictures
2010 F1 season review
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- Vote for the best F1 driver of 2010
- 2010 F1 driver rankings part three: 8-4
- 2010 F1 driver rankings part two: 17-9
- 2010 F1 driver rankings part one: 27-18
Images © Motioncompany, Bridgestone/Ercole Colombo