HRT

Date published: February 5 2012

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At times during HRT’s first two seasons in the sport to date many would have doubted the small Spanish-backed outfit would make it all the way to 2012, such has been the turbulent nature of the team’s Formula 1 story to date.

At times during HRT’s first two seasons in the sport to date many would have doubted the small Spanish-backed outfit would make it all the way to 2012, such has been the turbulent nature of the team’s Formula 1 story to date.

But on the grid for a third season they are, with the campaign ahead witnessing the team assume a greater Spanish flavour than ever following the second takeover in their short history, by private equity firm Thesan Capital. A further Spanish influx for 2012 sees former Minardi driver Luis Perez-Sala take over from Colin Kolles as team principal, veteran driver Pedro de la Rosa handed an unexpected race return at the age of 41 and a new factory in Valencia on the way.

Whether the decision to effectively become Spain’s national F1 team acts as a springboard to longer-term success remains to be seen, but the team have already shown they can deliver a respectable level of performance. Indeed, higher classified finishes in both 2010 and 2011 meant they actually finished ahead of Virgin in the Constructors’ Championship.

Actually running their car over the winter would represent a step forward for the restructured HRT outfit having entered their first season without any testing to speak of and only using their old car a year ago. As such, their failure to qualify within the 107% rule at the Australia season-opener was hardly a surprise.

Yet for all the skepticism that surrounds HRT, the bare facts show they have made progress on the stopwatch: having started their first race in Bahrain 2010 over eight seconds off the pace, they had reduced the gap to under five seconds by the end of last year. And it’s not as if the front runners have been standing still either…

Although points remain something of a distant dream HRT right now, they hope to start challenging Caterham and Marussia on a more regular basis in 2012.

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