Narain Karthikeyan has said that he is feeling positive ahead of next weekend’s Australian Grand Prix despite having completed just ten laps of running in the new HRT.
Of course, the new car has been through ten more laps of pre-season testing than its predecessor, which arrived in Australia in bits and was being frantically assembled during the Friday practice sessions. Both drivers, one of which Karthikeyan, made it out into qualifying, but fell foul of the 107% rule.
The Indian driver is in no doubt that things will be tricky in Melbourne next weekend, but is confident that the team are heading in the right direction.
“I'm feeling positive ahead of the Australian Grand Prix after having completed 10 laps with the new F112 last Monday,” he said. “Of course this was only a first contact and we didn't push it to the limit but the important thing was to get the ball rolling. It's not ideal to miss testing but we must look forward now.
“The new management have done an incredible job putting everything together and we'll do the best we can to continue progressing. We're in the right direction. Last year we only managed to complete five laps in the third practice session and failed to qualify for the race, so I'm looking to etch out that memory”.
Team-mate Pedro de la Rosa has not even driven the car yet, and will only get his first taste of the F112 on Friday morning.
“After a long winter of hard work, we've finally made it to Australia and are really looking forward to trying the car out and continue learning,” said the Spaniard, whose last F1 race was the rain-affected 2011 Canadian Grand Prix. “We need to try and make the most of our time on Friday and Saturday morning to make it to qualifying and the race in the best possible conditions.
“We would have liked to have come with more mileage but I think it's an achievement to have made it with a 100% new car and a practically new team. Our aim is to do things well, with seriousness and patience.
“Albert Park is a circuit I like a lot because there are many overtaking opportunities and hard braking areas, besides various chicanes. It's a track where you have to drive aggressively and know how to ride over a lot of kerbs. The most important aspect of the car is braking, traction and its top speed, which is why the DRS will play an important role”.
The team have undergone a lot of changes over the close season, one of which is the appointment of new team principal Luis PÃ©rez-Sala. He is not underestimating the challenges that the team will face ahead of this opening race, but is confident that they can overcome them.
“We've spent three months working relentlessly, but the team and the car are ready for the great task ahead of us,” he said. “We have done a lot of things since the last race of 2011 in Brazil and I'm very proud of the entire team but, without a doubt, the hardest part comes now. We know where we are but also where we wish to be and with the team spirit and sacrifice that we have shown, I'm convinced that we can achieve it”.