HRT are confident they will be able to qualify within the 107% time after an encouraging Friday practice in Malaysia. Narain Karthikeyan was forced to stop during FP1 with a hydraulic issue but set a 1:43.658 in the afternoon, fractionally quicker than teammate Pedro de la Rosa, and 1.4 seconds inside the time required had it been qualifying.
Karthikeyan admits there are still problems to be ironed out but sees a definite improvement from thr car he drove in Australia.
“In the morning session we suffered some reliability issues, the same as in Melbourne but not as bad and we've also got some cooling issues too. In the afternoon these issues persisted on turns 13 and 14 where I wasn't able to select the gears properly but the important thing is that we're within the 107% time and can continue to improve and be in better conditions. I definitely felt the difference with regards to Australia but we need a lot more. This is one of the hardest races of the year so we're going to need to work hard to be able to have a good performance”.
De La Rosa agreed that the team has taken a step forward since Melbourne after enjoying an unusually normal day's running.
“Today has been a positive day for us because it panned out with the normality of a practice session day, and that in itself is good news. For the first time we were able to try out different solutions on this car: the DRS is working, the power steering has improved from Australia and, although we're not where we would like to be, we've taken a considerable step forward. The sensations improved as the day wore on and the car behaved better from the morning to the afternoon. There's still plenty to do, but the general evaluation for the day is positive”.
Chief Race Engineer Toni Cuquerella praised the hard work of the HRT mechanics but has stressed that reliability is still an issue for the team.
“We've worked very hard these past days to fix the issues we encountered in Australia. Today was a normal Friday and a good day to validate the car's systems. The priority is for the car to work and we checked that the DRS functioned without problems and resolved the majority of the hydraulic issues. We took another step forward on the track today and improved our lap times, but we've still got to improve a lot to make up for the time we lost with respect to our rivals. Tomorrow we will continue to work on optimizing cooling in race distance but, generally, we are satisfied with how the day went”.