HRT team principal Luis Perez-Sala says the F112 has far greater potential than the team has realised so far this year.
“It has a good base and that’s its biggest strength,” said Perez-Sala in a Q&A published by the team. “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.”
“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.
“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.”
Perez-Sala added he is hoping to see better performances from the car in the second half of the season: “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. The objective is to stay between the 104 and 105% and have the project for 2013 prepared.”
The closest HRT have been to the front-runners’ pace this year was in their home race at Valencia, where they were 4.17% slower than the fastest lap.
De la Rosa “extraordinary”
Perez-Sala said his view of the team at present “couldn’t be more positive” following a “complicated” start to the season: “As we’ve already said on multiple occasions, we’ve almost changed the entire team, we’ve moved to a new headquarters where we’ve been based since early April, and all of this whilst we built a new car.
“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.”
Asked about the ongoing discussions about future engine supplies in F1 he said: “We’re waiting to have all the possible information, especially with everything related to the costs that this change implies.
“We still don’t know all the details, but for us it is of vital importance to know them to see where we stand and what decision we make because this takes up between 15 and 20% of the team’s budget.
“This is a change that needs important planning that must be done well. As for the Concorde Agreement, I don’t think there will be any problems because, although we’re a small team, we feel that we’re taken into consideration and supported.”
Perez-Sala gave high praise to Pedro de la Rosa, who joined the team this year: “I’d highlight everything about Pedro. He’s an extraordinary person and an excellent driver.
“Apart from his experience he’s got a lot of common sense and he acts as the leader of the team. There’s no doubt that he’s the cornerstone of this project.
“From Narain [Karthikeyan] I’d emphasize his experience, safety and speed, besides the stability he contributes to the team.
“Dani [Clos] is a young driver, with strength and ambition and he’s adapted phenomenally well to the team in a position which isn’t easy, which is that of the reserve driver.
“Ma [Qing Hua] is a driver who will surprise us all because he has great potential. We saw it when he tested the F112 in Silverstone, where he showed his quality. He’s a hard worker and he has also adapted perfectly. I’m very proud and satisfied with the structure of drivers that we have and each one plays their role perfectly.”
2012 F1 season
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Images © HRT F1 Team