Hard to see much progress for HRT in 2011

2011 F1 season preview

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Car: F111
#22 Narain Karthikeyan
#23 Vitantonio Liuzzi
Form 2006-2010: n/a, n/a, n/a, n/a, 11
2010 points: 0

HRT head into their second F1 season in slightly more promising shape than they were in 12 months ago.

But given that they began their debut season with two rookie drivers and an untested car, that isn’t saying much.

The team have again failed to log any miles with their latest car heading into the new season. They did at least manage a few days’ testing with last year’s car.

Although the final day of testing was postponed to what was originally supposed to by Saturday qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix, an inability to get all the necessary parts to the track kept HRT from running their F111 in Barcelona.

At first glance the F111 looks like a car with a lot of backing – look closer and many of the messages are actually designed to entice potential sponsors: “This could be you” and “This is a cool spot”.

One of few actual sponsors is Tata Group, the largest company in India, which explains the presence of Narain Karthikeyan in the team’s driver line-up.

Narian Karthikeyan, HRT, Barcelona, 2011

The Indian driver is making a return to F1 after a five-year absence. His debut season for Jordan in 2005 ended with a huge shunt in the Chinese Grand Prix.

After that he was briefly employed by Williams as a test driver, and raced in Superleague Formula last year.

The team only confirmed the identity of Katrhikeyan’s team mate on Wednesday. Vitantonio Liuzzi comes to the team with 63 race starts to his name, making him by far the most experienced driver the team have had.

That experience will be valuable for a team who ended last season missing over one percent of lap time to the next slowest cars.

Given the team’s lack of pre-season testing last year it was remarkable that their better reliability than rivals Virgin allowed them to take 11th place in the constructors’ championship.

With a Williams-sourced gearbox they can expect improved performance and reliability this year. But rivals Virgin have already put over 3,700km on their new car.

For HRT, merely holding on to 11th in the championship would be an achievement for a team that seems likely to continue bringing up the rear in 2011.

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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68 comments on “Hard to see much progress for HRT in 2011”

  1. Ah, the moving roadblock that is HRT.
    After 2 seasons of not running any tests you’d think their financier would just say “* it”.

    1. You get what you pay for. Testing costs money, and so their financier needs to pay up if he expects that much from them.

  2. I believe cool spot is a brand of a soft drink in India?

    1. If it is they’ve kept quiet about it.

      And you’d expect it to just say “Cool Spot” instead of “This is a Cool Spot”.

      1. Cool Spot is the name of the red dot in the 7-Up logo. He spawned arms, legs, a pair of early 90’s shades, and got himself a video game:


        1. i thought cool spot was the virgin logo with arms and legs….. The game was also published by virgin.

          1. Nope, He’s the Red dot as seen in the 7-up logo. Virgin Interactive developed and published the game. It was essentially a giant 7-Up advert in the form of a video game.

    2. Actually there was a drink called Gold Spot.. but they stopped manufacturing it nearly a decade ago.

      1. it contained arsenic…

    3. Would be fun if someone would actually get a brand going and lift along like that!

    4. its gold spot. which is not even a brand now

      1. Speaking of sponsors, I think the car would look heaps better if they replaced “this could be you” with a bigger version of that Panda branding and then replaced “this is a cool spot” with a picture of a Panda. Actually, why don’t they just have some fun and cover it in animals or something fun? It’s not like they have any (other than Panda) sponsors to appease, so why not have some fun?

        1. The “cool spot” has a price that Panda didn’t pay that amount. Why do they have to gift the space? The same about “this could be you”, which would be more expensive.

  3. Well its kind of obvious that HRT have made no progress. Atleast last year they had a shot at competing with Virgin and Lotus, this year they are in a league of their own. They took one step forward and two step backwards, and I would be absolutely shocked if HRT come back for another season in 2012.

    1. I think their only shot at competing is:
      A. making the 107% of qualli, which should be doable with the only car on the grid having more downforce than last year
      B. finish races and hope Virgin or maybe Lotus or others don’t finish as often.

      Liuzzi might help them actually use the potential of the car and Narain is not too slow. On the other hand they would have to hope the fastest Indian will be less crash prone than in his Jordan stint and Liuzzi will be more lucky than he was last year.

      1. the problem is that they dont have a DRS, so in quali when the other teams can us it whenever they want to get the boost, HRT wont. it wouldnt surprise me to see them not make the grid on many occasions.

        1. But they do actually have a DRS. You can see it in pictures of the car.

          1. I’d certainly be surprised if they didn’t, no way would they make the 107% cut in Q1 without it.

        2. Actually they have DRS
          Two actuators, both sides

          ps taken from autosport forum

          1. LOL, the nice red circle and arrow you put in that picture perfectly fits the livery.

            The only part missing would be something like “no walking on surface” or something else taken from a fighter plane.

          2. DeadManWoking
            14th March 2011, 23:43

            or “No Standing While The Ride Is In Motion” 8}

    2. I think all of you talk without knowing. As they haven’t test the car we do not know how is the car. The car changed, used Williams technology, got the DRS, got Luizzi, they also have plans to evolve, they have a team with good people coming from other teams in F1, people that don’t need to be there pretending they have a car, but making it real…

      why have the car to be so slow as you say?

      Let’s see it in Australia.

  4. difficult to say whether you’re right or wrong as we havent seen the car run yet :-)

    For what its worth though, adding a williams gearbox and design led by Geoff willis has to be of some benefit.

    And in their two drivers, they have two solid experienced drivers.

    Funding appears to be by far the biggest challenge for them, as there was clear logic in the toyota tie up that failed.

    Here is to shake downs in free practice 1. Absolutely crazy isnt it.

    Being a natural sceptic, you do have to wonder whether they will survive the season.

  5. Wouldn’t it be great if they’ve somehow stumbled upon brilliant design and do a Brawn? hahaha

    1. While the thought is highly amusing, it’s also highly unlikely. Brawn spent millions of pounds and months of development aided by state-of-the-art facilities and armies of designers and engineers to create the BGP01. Willis had just a few weeks of time to use some spare change, found under Kolles’s sofa, equipment consisting of whatever he found in his car’s toolbox and a handful of freelance designers to try and bolt on an old Williams gearbox on the back of a half-finished Dallara chassis.
      We can hardly expect any miracles.
      In fact, their only hope is that Wirth created in the guise of MVR02 the spiritual successor to his old Andrea Moda F1 car design…

  6. Sush Meerkat
    14th March 2011, 15:09

    Tonio Liuzzi is driving for them?, 2 things;
    Firstly, That boy has had more comebacks than Frank Sinatra.
    Secondly, Joe Saward will bang on about Tonio’s skill behind the wheel of a dog of a car.

    1. I tend to ignore whatever Joe Saward says since it’s mostly garbage.

      1. I tend to ignore whatever Joe Saward says since it’s mostly garbage.

        Oh I undestand that. He is not like most of F1 journos who loves to suck Alonso and Ferrari balls just to increase his stats in his blog — or even to buy his independent and awsome F1 magazine.

        1. I thought it was the other way around? Normally the journo’s brand Nando as the devil?

        2. Yeah, he’s the sort of person who thinks Webber in an RB6 did better in 2010 than Alonso did. ‘Nuff said.

          1. Let’s just say Joe isn’t the guy you want to ask for a balanced, well thought out and well supported opinion :)

          2. No, he thinks with his gut, not his head.

          3. Although I don’t agree with everything that Saward writes (notably his stance on Alonso), he has more class than any of you crack-pots.

  7. Your Logo! :D

    1. It’s one thing to have that on the renderings to try and show potential sponsors where their logo could go, it’s another thing entirely to actually paint it on the cars. Very embarrassing. I can’t imagine why Tata is willing to put their logo next to all of that. It wreaks of desperation, and certainly doesn’t reflect well on anyone involved.

      1. Tata can pay to fill all that messages. But if they doesn’t pay, they cannot say anything.

  8. The only thing I like about this car is the big numbers. Something F1 lacks…

    Appart from that, I don’t understand why they chose to employ the guy from Tron movie to do the livery yet they couldn’t get the dampers in time.

    1. Agreed. The big numbers are great. Really loved them on the Williams and was disappointed they didn’t keep them on the final livery.

      1. US_Peter – who really cares..?

  9. the-muffin-man
    14th March 2011, 15:22

    In my opinion I think Virgin are the ones to worry about this season. Their new car seems to be only slightly better that last years and certainly doesn’t look like it will get anywhere near the back of the mid-field runners never mind Lotus.

    And HRT managed to keep pace with Virgin last year with no development at all.

    1. That’s a good point. It also stands to reason that HRT will have made at least a small step this year, and if you’re right about Virgin, that could put HRT ahead yet again.

      1. Not a small step… a 3 year step.

  10. Vitantonio Liuzzi comes to the team with 63 race starts to his name, making him by far the most experienced driver the team have had.

    That experience will be valuable for a team who ended last season missing over one percent of lap time to the next slowest cars.

    Yeah! Liuzzi is fundamental for once!

  11. I hope they survive and surprise us. For the longer term I think they need either serious money and involvement of the current owner, or a new owner. Otherwise I can’t see sponsors other then Tata getting involved with the team.

    1. It seems a strange move for Tata to give Karthikeyan so much backing to go to HRT, but I guess the inaugural Indian Grand Prix was a big factor in their decision to go ahead with this.

      1. Tata may be eying on 2013 regulation changes. We may see Tata providing engine… that will certainly help HRT :)

  12. It beggars belief that they couldn’t make it for one test day. Such a shame. Fingers crossed, though; they did alright last year. Let’s hope they have the reliability to finish races, accumulate data and improve the car.

    I read somewhere (Autosport?) Kolles saying that the budget is in place and that isn’t a problem like it was last year.

    Keith, an honest interview with Kolles would be amazing. The behind-the-scenes story of what happened over the winter period up until now. Blimey, that would be a good read!

    My gut feeling is with the-muffin-man’s: Virgin are going to be worse than HRT again. It’s all that Branson Pickle smeared on the tyres.

    1. DeadManWoking
      14th March 2011, 16:07

      an honest interview with Kolles would be amazing

      Doubt whether that will happen anytime soon, I’m still waiting for one about USF1.
      Keith, did Windsor say anything to you about it when you were on his show?

      1. I think Keith has enough sensitivity not to touch that one.

        I also would like a honest interview from Ferrari or Red Bull.
        Just saying… It’s not like HRT are the only one to slightly alter the truth for their own benefit…

  13. Well on paper it doesn’t look pretty. But hey, we don’t know how fast the car is on design alone yet. Looks niftier than last year, we’ll have to see.

  14. HRT always keep me thinking “how did it happen?”

    I mean, were the dampers really hold up by the customs? Was Yamamota really food poisoned in 2010?, changing drivers almost every race, the new livery, is’t just a big joke.

    however, HRT finished 11th in the championship, again: how did it happen?=P

  15. Hey, I’ve had a great idea. HRT are sponsored by TATA, who own Jaguar-LandRover. Would be great to see a Jaguar back in F1 again… come on Ratan Tata, make it happen.

    Preferably in the “Silk Cut” colours, now everyone’s going back to ‘retro-inspired’ liveries…!

    1. I hope TATA does not do take over hrt ,this team does not have it own facility no design office,people working from different places have designed this years car,cars are assembled at kolles work shop in Germany they have most off people associated are from kolles Dtm and Le-Mans.
      Only thing that any body will gain from take over of this is racing license
      Jaguar involvement with team running last will damage it brand.

  16. Best of luck to them. As long as they get some miles in the car in Australia they can hopefully start ironing out the bugs. Dallara got the blame for last years car being so slow so hopefully this car proves to be a bit better. Heres hoping they qualify!

  17. jsw11984 (@jarred-walmsley)
    14th March 2011, 19:05

    Something that the article you linked to has shown me, is we all keep banging on how bad HRT is but, they were more reliable and finished more racing laps in 2010 then both Virgin and Sauber. now sure Sauber made more of what they had, but it shows that the HRT wasn’t as bad as we keep saying it was.

    1. TheGreatCornholio
      15th March 2011, 1:56

      Nice to see at least one person looking at this from a slightly more positive point of view. ScarbsF1 points out that some reasonably well thought out ideas have been applied to the F111. Lots of the guys who slated Hispania for their lack of professionalism are right in that they are a bit “comedy” BUT, i would actually miss them as i get the feeling that in some form or another they’ll be with us for a few years. One HUGE bonus of their survival would be that it would immensely annoy Bernie and Luca Di Montezemelo! Lol

  18. Looks like them propping up the back is the only guarantee of 2011. I’d like to think Virgin can distance themselves though, having almost 4km more testing there would be no excuse!

  19. Arriving in Australia with a car that has zero test miles on it doesn’t bode well for HRT (ya think?). Applying the reinstated 107% rule, I’m pretty sure that neither of their similarly untested machines would have made the grid for the first race in Bahrain last year. I’ll be happily surprised if they make the grid in Melbourne.

    1. Just had another thought regarding the 107% rule. Last year at Monaco, Alonso wasn’t able to participate in qualifying at all due to his accident during practice, and had to start his race from the pit lane. Given the 107% thing, I have to wonder if there is a rule in place that would allow a car in a similar situation to start from the pit lane based on quick enough practice times, or they become a spectator.

      1. There are provisions in the rules for special dispensations to be made – as there was when we first had the 107% rule.

        1. Thanks Keith. That was quick!

    2. im not so sure about that. and iven if it was true, the front runners will be slower this year due to the banning of the DD (in testing so far they are more than 1 second off the pace of last years testing) This means that HRT will probably be one of the only teams that will improve their pace. Hence they should be in a better position in regards to the 107% rule in 2011 pradoxicaly.

  20. Should a car really be allowed to race unless it’s had a minimum amount of testing? Surely there are safety implications of putting a car that’s done literally no miles in the midst of what is a pretty extreme environment.

    1. But look at the top teams – every car they put into every race will contain a certain number of parts that haven’t been run prior to that weekend. The safety implications of that are no different.

      The F111 will have passed the same impact tests as the other cars.

  21. I fear that we will only see them in Fridays and Saturdays

    1. James Williams
      18th March 2011, 0:49

      Why fear? It’s a good thing. They’re worthless.

  22. The worst drivers combination this season with a team with no testing a recipe for disaster for other teams & drivers.

  23. James Williams
    18th March 2011, 0:48

    Technically they’re in a worse shape than last year. Considering this time last year they had actually run the car.

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