HRT's main goal is simply to qualify for this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix after failing to do so in Australia for the second year running. Narain Karthikeyan went through that experience 12 months ago and feels confident that with more miles on the car, it will be quick enough to get inside the 107% cut-off point this weekend.
“It wasn't an easy first weekend for us in Melbourne but the team is working hard and we hope to complete the maximum amount of kilometres with the new car so that we can have it in prime conditions for qualifying and the race. The team is working on solving the reliability issues that we encountered, so I'm confident that things will go better in Malaysia. Sepang is a circuit that I like a lot and a place where I have raced numerous times. This was the only Grand Prix out of the eight that I took part in last year that I didn't finish, so this year I'm looking to firstly qualify and then finish the race, that is the main objective”.
Teammate Pedro de la Rosa was just over a second slower than the time required to get in the race in Australia despite only a handful of laps. The Spaniard sees Sepang as the acid test for a car's reliability so expects to learn a lot more about the F112.
“Our two main priorities for Malaysia are to have DRS and improve the power steering in this short time that we have whilst being away from Europe. In Australia we were only able to complete 7 timed laps so I need get more track time, get to know the car better and improve the set-up. If we can achieve this then we could have a good Grand Prix. Sepang is probably the toughest track of the year both for car and driver. Mechanically it's very demanding because besides there being a lot of consecutive high-speed corners it is very hot and humid. Cooling is key for the car as is hydration for the driver”.
Despite the disappointment in Melbourne, Team Principal Luis Perez-Sala is happy with the rate of progress being made and thinks that will help them to qualify for the race in Sepang.
“Winter has been a period of hard work where we have achieved many things in a short period of time. But this is Formula 1 and what counts in the end are results so, although for us it was important to make it to Australia and run from the first day, to have made it so far and not quite make it didn't please anyone. Anyways, the F112 is a young car with potential and the team is also new and promising. They both need running time and adaptation, but we are aware that the Championship doesn't stop and there is no time to lose. That is why we will continue to work to the maximum as we have done until now and I'm confident that in Malaysia we will continue to progress and take that extra step to improve”.