HRT have failed to qualify for tomorrow’s Australian Grand Prix. It’s the second year in succession that the Spanish team has not made the grid for the season opener. It’s time to ask the question: why are they there?
Formula One is a sport. In sport, winning is the target. In two seasons so far HRT have failed to make any noticeable progress whatsoever. For the third season in succession they have missed pre-season testing completely, and it shows on the track. Today the two cars were over six seconds off the pace in qualifying, which put them outside the 107% time and therefore out of tomorrow’s race. They have made no strides at all towards the midfield, nevermind the front of the grid.
Contrast this story with that Caterham. After starting right at the back of the field, with HRT and Virgin (now Marussia) in 2010, the team previously known as Lotus has steadily progressed towards fighting in the midfield. In qualifying today, Heikki Kovalainen was only a second slower than the Ferrari of Felipe Massa. That is an indication of a significant step forward by Caterham in only their third season of Formula One. HRT has made no steps forward. If anything, they have gone backwards.
What exactly are HRT doing in Formula One? If they’re trying to win, they’re not trying very hard. If they’re there just to make up the numbers, then they’re simply an expensive annoyance to be lapped 3 times per race. So far, they can only (sometimes) compete with Marussia. They’re not racing for points, or even a share of of the prize-money allotted to the top 10 teams. There is no way they will even come close to the top ten teams this season.
If they’re serious about Formula One, HRT need to make some drastic changes. Perhaps they are already doing so, behind the scenes. If not, they need to get out of the way of the other teams who are there to race. Currently, what HRT does is not racing.