2011 Team Reviews - Hispania Racing Team

Slyboogy

World Champion
Contributor
Right, well the admin team thought it was better to do put up reviews of each team in different articles, so that we can discuss the team this year. Not a bad idea.

So anyway, here's the HRT one:

Hispania season review
Hispania parted company with Dallara in May 2010 after the partnership between the two companies had become tense due to the car's lack of performance. The team sought an alternative technical deal to assist in the construction of its 2011 chassis. When Hispania was still under the Campos name, team owner José Ramón Carabante said in an interview with Autosport that Campos Meta F1/HRT were eyeing a Ferrari engine supply for the 2011 season. Colin Kolles said in an interview with Diario AS in July 2010, that talks about a partnership with Toyota was an option for 2011.Colin Kolles confirmed in October that the team had enough financing to complete its maiden Formula One campaign.

Former chief executive officer of Telefónica, Juan Villalonga joined the team in November 2010. His main role is to help with communications, technology and sponsorship. It was later announced that the team would give a test to GP2 champion Pastor Maldonado who later secured a drive with Williams. Fellow GP2 drivers Josef Král and Davide Valsecchi will also test for the team in Abu Dhabi. After the final race of the 2010 season, it emerged that Hispania had signed a deal in the summer of 2010 with Toyota Motorsport GmBH which would have seen it use Toyota's never-raced 2010 car, the Toyota TF110, as the basis of its 2011 challenger as well as making use of Toyota Motorsport's technical resources. In November last year, Toyota announced that they had cancelled the agreement because HRT failed to make payments. Later there were reports that the team has been placed up for sale, but had been denied by its owners. Hispania also left the Formula One Teams Association at this point, blaming the organisation's bias against the smaller teams for its decision. The FOTA secretary-general, however, claimed that Hispania was expelled from the organisation because it did not pay its 2010 membership fee.

The team in early January announced one of it's drivers, and it's fair to say, it was what we expected, an unusual candidate. Narain Karthikeyan announced that he would drive for the team. He previously drove for the Jordan team in 2005, his stint at Jordan didn't go so well. By February, it had emerged that the team was considering Vitantonio Liuzzi as an option for their second driver. Liuzzi confirmed that it was in consideration and took part in the third pre-season test with the team, in Barcelona. The team also tested former Formula Renault V6 Eurocup champion Giorgio Mondini at Barcelona. Liuzzi was confirmed as Hispania's second driver on 9 March 2011.

The idiosyncratic Kolles is not universally popular, but he led the hastily-assembled crew to one of the most miraculous achievements of the season by getting Hispania to the season-opener.

Fully assembled for the first time in the Albert Park pit-lane, the car was unsurprisingly miles off the pace and unreliable - Both drivers failed to qualify due to them being over the 107% rule which was re-introduced.

But by the standards we were expecting, the car was pretty solid; both drivers managed to qualify and both cars completed the distance in round three in China. Hispania's mechanical reliability record was ultimately better than either Lotus or Virgin.

The team was no match for its rivals on speed, though.

With relations with Dallara breaking down last year, the development for last years car stopped, and many wondered whether they would make a car worthy to be racing on the F1 grid for the full season. The original product wasn't exactly a promising baseline, as more experienced personnel such as their number 1 driver and ex-Williams/BAR designer Geoff Willis openly described the chassis as way below modern F1 standard.

With few facilities of its own, Hispania's plan was to find a new technical partner, and for a long time it seemed that would be Toyota, which had its unused 2010 F1 design on the shelf and a factory transformed into a motorsport contractor.

Having secured the use of Williams transmission systems from 2011, and with Toyota adapting its design for that gearbox and Cosworth power, there appeared to be sunshine on the horizon for Hispania – until Toyota issued a post-season statement announcing that it was cutting all ties with the squad because the money wasn't forthcoming. Hispania said it was “surprised”...

Current reports suggest that Hispania's fallback option is to drag a modified version of its 2010 car through 2011 as well, which is hardly an enticing prospect for potential drivers.

Hispania's pace did actually improve as 2011 progressed, though more through the crew and drivers' persistence than any breakthroughs, for the package was pretty much the same whether it was at a street track or Monza. They brought a fair few upgrades, unlike compared to last year though.

And even as it picked up the pace, the rest of the field largely remained out of reach, bar a few occasions when Virgin underperformed.

Hispania did manage to beat Richard Branson's squad in the constructors' championship though, with Vintantonio Liuzzi scoring their highest finish of the season and of their career to date, with a 13th place finish in Canada ahead of both Virgin cars.

That was also Hispania's sole 'class win' of the season, as aboth Team Lotus cars were out.

When your car's too slow to get near any other teams, your reputation depends on how you fare against your team-mate, and by that measure, Karthikeyan's replacement, Daniel Ricciardo didn't fair too badly against his experienced team-mate Liuzzi.

Stepping in halfway through the season in a slow car that you haven't raced in is a hard task, and to constantly match your team-mate, and to occasionally out-perform them was an achievement, but probably no more what Red Bull expected from their protégé.

Conversely, Karthikeyan's pace was more respectable than expected at times, especially at the Indian Grand Prix where he out-qualified his highly-rated team-mate and finished ahead of him.

It would be unfair, though, to draw too many conclusions about the ability of anyone lumbered with a Hispania this season.

The revolving driver line-up – and Hispania's habit of slipping driver changes last season in as afterthoughts (often with dubious reasoning, such as Yamamoto's alleged illness in Singapore) in last-minute press releases – did little for the team's credibility. However, this season they have managed to turn that around and only changed their drivers twice, with Ricciardo replacing Karthikeyan for the second half of the season, and with Liuzzi getting replaced by Karthikyan so that the Indian driver could race at his own home grand prix. Both changes where respectable and understandble.

Sticking the 'this could YOU' logos in large writing on the sidepods was a reminder of the lack of sponsor logos that ought to have been in that space – and with money key to the Toyota deal falling apart, there have to be serious questions over how long Hispania will be around, especially if it is going to be even less competitive in 2012.

The future however looks more brighter than last year, with an extended partnership with Williams regarding the gearbox and quite crucially getting a deal on the KERS. Financial wise, they look stronger than last year with new backers.

And a car that's spent the season at the back and shows little likelihood of getting any higher up in the foreseeable future is going to be a tough sell to sponsors...

Highlights: Assembling both cars for the first time in Australia. Also, beating Virgin Racing in two seasons in a row in what has to be said, a much lesser car.

Lowlights: Not making it to winter-testing, and hiring a mobile-chicane to drive one of their cars.
 

Galahad

Not a Moderator
Valued Member
Not a bad season considering the background, as you have excellently described. It's expensive to keep a team outside the top 10 in the championship for year after year, and the prospects for big sponsorship from the Spanish economy must be receding as things stand.

I fear they will be alone at the back in 2012, however - the new car has surely had a difficult conception, with Geoff Willis leaving, and then Jorg Zander being announced as Geoff's replacement and subsequently declining to take the role.
 

FB

Not my cup of cake
Valued Member
I believe Nick Wirth might be looking for something to fill his time if HRT fancy it...

Do you think HRT have fallen into the Minardi mode of "make sure you're lapped multiple times to get some TV coverage"?
 

MCLS

Anti F1 fan
Valued Member
The fact that they've survived 2 years has to be a miracle in itself considering what's happened to them ever since they first joined the grid. Being honest I wrote them off after Australia and expected them to fold but they certainly are persistent.
 

Slyboogy

World Champion
Contributor
They get a lot of stick, some of it is deserved, some of it isn't. I think the garage below them deserves it more, bigger budget, better team, better drivers. Yet have finished last in both seasons.
 

Brogan

🦶 Leg end
Staff Member
Nice work again Sly.

Sadly I can't see HRT improving any time soon, especially having just signed de la Rosa, who let's face it isn't exactly in the prime of his career and didn't do much for Sauber.

It would be a shame to see them fail though, F1 needs more teams, not less.
 

RasputinLives

Leave me alone I'm on Smoko
Contributor
Bro - ever thought about trying to get them put the Clip The Apex logo on the side of that car? plenty of space. We could all chip in for the fee - in my coat pocket alone I have 79p and half a Mars bar I'm sure Mr Kolles would bite my hand off.
 

Andrea_Moda_Rules

Podium Finisher
You know what? I believe HRT could have the makings of a decent 'little team', if there owners stopped playing hot potato with the company.

I mean they won't be humbling Red Bull, McLaren or Williams for that matter anytime soon. But considering They appear to have no or very little sponsors. Had a revolving Door of owners, Designers and staff they haven't done too badly.

If they could hunt down a few sponsors (not sure how the Spanish thing is going to work with that), Keep the same design Team for more then 5 minutes. They could become the New Minardi or Osella.

I'm hoping that the 2012 car comes out on time though. That would a good start after there first two years
 
You know what? I believe HRT could have the makings of a decent 'little team', if there owners stopped playing hot potato with the company.

I mean they won't be humbling Red Bull, McLaren or Williams for that matter anytime soon. But considering They appear to have no or very little sponsors. Had a revolving Door of owners, Designers and staff they haven't done too badly.

If they could hunt down a few sponsors (not sure how the Spanish thing is going to work with that), Keep the same design Team for more then 5 minutes. They could become the New Minardi or Osella.

I'm hoping that the 2012 car comes out on time though. That would a good start after there first two years
I'd agree with that. With PdlR perhaps giving them a bit of stability, and a good development program, I can see them overhauling Marussia on pace alone for next year. As long as they take on a decent 2nd driver, not a Yamamoto/Maldonado type, I'd say that is a realistic goal.
 
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