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Valencia Preview Quotes – HRT

Pedro de la Rosa: “Just like in Barcelona, I’m really looking forward to racing in front of our home fans in Valencia. At the Valencia Street Circuit we will encounter high air and track temperatures so the brakes will be put through their paces once again, but we’re confident we can make the necessary modifications to overcome the problems we experienced in Canada. Valencia has long straights but overtaking isn’t easy and it is a high-downforce track. I think we can do quite well here, although it’s not as favourable to our car as Canada, because there are a lot of braking areas and slow corners which are good for us. We’re looking forward to putting in a good performance in front of our fans and we want to continue with our progress from the last few races, where we’ve been at a good standard, but here we want to confirm this improvement in the race.”

Narain Karthikeyan: “Valencia will be our third street circuit in a row, and our team’s second home race. It is our second visit to Spain in just about five weeks but the circuit is as different as it could be compared to Barcelona. It shares some characteristics with Montreal and Monte Carlo, like emphasis on low-speed traction so I expect our car to do well here. Apart from that, it is a beautiful place and weather is pretty hot, just like India, but the track itself isn’t a huge challenge. Yes the walls are close but the adrenaline factor isn’t close to Monaco or even Montreal. But on the back of the promise we showed in Canada, I’m looking forward to the race and hopefully we’ll have a chance to build on it this time.”

Luis Pérez-Sala, Team Principal: “We’re looking forward to racing in Valencia, as it will be the second time we do so at home this season. In Canada we were quick and performed well but were unable to finish the race. In Valencia we want to confirm this progress and achieve a good result, plus doing so in front of the Spanish public is even more special. I think that the characteristics of this circuit adapt well to our car and I hope we have good reliability and finish the race with a positive result.”

Where is Button’s penalty?

Jenson Button made a mistake in the Malaysian Grand Prix that cost him a probable decent haul of points. Under braking for turn 9, Button locked his rear tyres. As a result, he hit the HRT of Narain Karthikeyan, who was ahead of Button at the time (rain really does shake up the order). Button broke his front wing and had to pit for a new nose, costing him a massive chunk of time and therefore any chance of points in the race. There was no apparent damage to Karthikeyan’s HRT.

No-one really thought anything of the incident. Button made a mistake, he paid the price. The car he hit was only an HRT. No big deal.

But on closer inspection of the crash, Button exhibits a blatant disregard for the car in front of him. He obviously failed to slow down enough to take the corner without hitting the HRT. Under those circumstances, a driver would normally run wide in the corner. But Button isntead tried to duck up the inside of Karthikeyan.

Button must have known that he would not be able to take the inside line. He was simply moving too quickly. His actions, then, suggest that he went in to the corner knowing he could do damage to another car. The fact that the HRT survived the incident is beside the point. Button caused an avoidable collision, which is generally punished harshly in Formula One.

So where’s the penalty?

Karthikeyan himself was harshly punished for a later incident with Sebastian Vettel, where Vettel lapped the HRT, and as he went past, the front wing of Karthikeyan’s car punctured the left rear tyre of the Red Bull. It could easily be argued that Vettel was over-aggressive in returning to the racing line after lapping the HRT, but it is Karthikeyan who had 20 seconds added to his race time.

The stewards were obviously inconsistent in Sunday’s race. Button was wrong, he should be penalised. Karthikeyan was not particularly wrong in the incident with Vettel, yet he was harshly penalised. Why are HRT being marginalised and the front-runners favoured?

HRT – Hardly Racing Team

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.

Are these guys serious?

Marussia will mis the last pre-season test, after their car failed the last of the FIA’s mandatory crash tests. That means the team will arrive in Australia (assuming they can correct the issue and pass the test) with absolutely no mileage on their car.

Driving a Formula One car is dangerous at the best of times. The acceleration, braking, and corning abilities of the cars are staggering. The very idea of participating in a session on a grand prix weekend in a car that has never hit the track is ridiculous. At best, the car will be slow. At worst, it is a death trap.

A slow Formula One car is about the most dangerous thing imaginable. The closing speeds of the cars under braking are mind-blowing. A Red Bull could be braking 80 metres later than a Marussia in Melbourne in three weeks time. The potential exists for accidents like that of Mark Webber at Valencia in 2010, where he ran into the back of Kovalainen’s Lotus because he was surprised by how early the Lotus had to brake.

This is not the first time that a team is arriving at the first race with no testing. HRT have done it for the last two years. In 2010, they ran their cars for the first time in qualifying for Bahrain. In 2011, with the 107% rule re-introduced, they failed to qualify for Australia, to the surprise of no-one.

The regulations do not require a car to run in testing before it can take part in a grand prix weekend. In that regard, the regulations are woefully indequate. The FIA needs to wake up and realise that, by allowing this to happen, they are deliberately creating an unsafe environment for racing. Formula One is dangerous enough already. Why make it worse?

Last test coming up

12 Formula One teams will be in Barcelona in the first week of March, for the final four day pre-season test of 2012. It will be the first time that all 12 teams run their 2012 cars at the same time.

We can look forward to two more launches as HRT and Marussia reveal their 2012 challengers to the world. It will be the first time HRT take part in a pre-season test with their current car. They were in Jerez a few weeks ago, but with their 2011 car.

The up-coming test should see the return of Lotus, who pulled out of last week’s test after identifying an issue with their chassis. After a week or so back in the factory, they should be good to go.

In terms of what the teams are likely to be testing, there should be upgrades on some of the cars. Often the teams will start testing with a fairly basic car, and then bring a significant upgrade to the last test in preparation for the first race. So there could be some slightly different looking cars. Any changes to exhausts will be followed closely by all of the teams. Although it is no longer legal to run the exhaust through the diffuser, the teams have now learned that exhaust gases can play a part in producing downforce. Some teams will doubtless be testing exhaust-related solutions on their cars.

There should be quite a few race simulations. Now that reliability issues have mostly been resolved, the teams will want to concentrate on tyre and fuel management over long runs. Performance over long runs will be interesting to watch, as the teams start to find the performance in their cars. Pitstop practice could become more common, as the pit crews fine-tune their skills in anticipation of the start of the season. We will hopefully see some qualifying simulations. Although the teams will not want to give away too much of their true pace, they will also want to gather as much data as they can about low-fuel setups.

The pecking order will only become clear in Australia. In qualifying, we will find out who is the fastest. In the race, we’ll find out who has the best all-round package. Until then, we can only speculate.

New HRT fails crash tests reports that the new HRT has failed two of the FIA’s mandatory crash tests.

For 2012, new regulations require that cars pass all crash tests before they may be used on track. This means that HRT’s new car may not currently be tested. HRT had planned to launch the F112 at the next test in Barcelona on 21 February, but it seems that they will have to delay until the last test, starting on 1 March.

This is a setback that the team certainly did not need. After two seasons of struggling at the back of the grid, the Spanish team needs all the testing time it can get.

Jerez Day 2 – Schumacher tops the times, Caterham racks up the miles

Michael Schumacher topped the time sheets on the second day of pre-season testing at Jerez, Spain. The seven-time World Champion completed 132 laps with a fastest time of 1m18.561s, more than a second faster than yesterday’s quickest lap by Kimi Raikkonen.

Heikki Kovalainen made up for Caterham’s limited running yesterday by completing 139 laps today, more than any other driver. It was a significant day for Caterham, as KERS was used for the first time on the CT01. The team formerly known as Lotus did not use KERS in 2011.

Kovalainen was upbeat, saying: “I feel very happy with the work we have completed today. Yesterday we had a problem that was nothing to do with the car so today was our first real day of testing and we had a trouble free day, completing most of what we wanted to on day one and day two and working through a variety of setup changes. We ran on each of the tyre compounds and I’m really starting to get a feel for the car. Basically it’s good news because it confirms what I thought yesterday. This car is a lot better than the 2011 car, it’s quicker and everything works as we want it to. We’ve made very solid progress and I feel really good physically, so I think there’s a lot more to come.”

The day was mostly without incident. Kimi Raikkonen had a couple of off-track excursions, the first of which brought out the red flag while marshals cleaned gravel off the track. There was only one other stoppage, when some loose concrete was removed from behind a kerb.

Raikkonen entertained with some aggressive driving throughout the day, and Schumacher gave an overtaking masterclass when he ended up behind other cars at several points in the afternoon.

Today was the last day of the first test for HRT, who will bring their 2012 car to the second test in Barcelona in two weeks time. They ran their 2011 car for two days in order to gather data on the new Pirelli tyres. All of the other teams, except Marussia, will be in action again tomorrow morning.

Laptimes for the day are as follows:

Pos Driver Car Time Laps
1 Michael Schumacher Mercedes W02  1m18.561s 132
2 Mark Webber Red Bull RB8  1m19.184s 97
3 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso STR7  1m19.587s 100
4 Jules Bianchi Force India VJM05  1m20.221s 46
5 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus E20  1m20.239s 117
6 Paul di Resta Force India VJM05  1m20.272s 69
7 Felipe Massa Ferrari F2012  1m20.454s 95
8 Jenson Button McLaren MP4-27  1m20.688s 85
9 Sergio Perez Sauber C31  1m20.711s 106
10 Pastor Maldonado Williams FW34  1m21.197s 97
11 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham CT01  1m21.518s 139
12 Pedro de la Rosa HRT F111  1m22.128s 64

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