The new HRT, model number F112, finally made its track debut today with Narain Karthikeyan at the wheel.
The team, who missed all 12 of the pre-season testing days, instead used one of their filming days to take the new car out for the first time.
Pedro de la Rosa, Karthikeyan’s team-mate, and test/reserve drivers Dani Clos and Vitantonio Liuzzi were also present, but did not get behind the wheel of the F112.
For HRT, to get any kind of pre-season running under their belts is a vast improvement over last season. At the Australian Grand Prix a year ago, the mechanics were busy assembling the F111 in the Melbourne garage right up until qualifying, when neither driver could make the 107% cut-off time and were therefore unable to race.
“Today was a shakedown of the F112 and I have had the honour to be the first driver to test it,” said Karthikeyan. “The first impressions are quite good; it's definitely a step up from last year. We couldn't do any set-up work or stuff like that but everything seems to be working fine and there are no major problems so we can look forward to the season now. Everyone has worked hard and the new team management has put everything together in a very short period of time. They've done a proper job with the car and I'm sure that it's a big step forward from last year, so hopefully we can take the competition to the teams we were fighting last year”.
De la Rosa was also relieved to see the car up and running before the team arrived in Australia. “Today has been a very special day because the car saw the light for the first time; Narain did some installation laps and then various times laps without any issues,” explained the Spaniard. “This is very important, it might not seem like it, but any sort of mileage before Australia is vital to see that the car is in good conditions. From here it is our job to try and improve it and make it progress”.
“I'm very satisfied today as it is a very important day for us because we were able to test some things out with the new car during this filming day,” said new team principal Luis PÃ©res-Sala. “I'm very proud of each and every member of this team because everyone has contributed their little bit for this to be possible. Now we have to focus on Australia because we still have a lot ahead”