HRT had no problem getting within the 107% time required to qualify for the Chinese Grand Prix 2012, although Pedro de la Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan will start from the back row of the Shnghai grid in tomorrow’s race.
De la Rosa, who was the best placed of the two HRT driver in P23, said that he is seeing definite signs of process when it comes to these Saturday afternoon sessions. “I think it was, by far, our best qualifying session to date,” said the veteran Spaniard.
“I've already said many times that we've got a lot of room for improvement, but the important thing is that we've cut down the distance with regards to pole position considerably, some four seconds from first, and that's very positive for us. We're bringing the difference down and, although we're not going to stop here, we've taken a step forward, so I'm very happy.
“In this qualifying session we've made various changes to the set-up and the car responded well and, even though this morning there was no way of making the car turn well, in the afternoon, once I got in I felt the car was better. Tomorrow we hope to fight, as we did in Malaysia and if we can finish a little bit higher, then even better”.
Karthikeyan’s qualifying session was not what you’d call a smooth affair. He detailed the problems that he faced, and his aims for tomorrow’s grand prix.
“In qualifying I got blocked on my first lap and didn't clock a good time on the first set of tyres,” said the Indian driver. “On the second set I made a flatspot, so that's the reason I didn't do so well, but nevertheless we're comfortably inside the 107% and that's important.
“Tomorrow if it rains during the race that will benefit us, if not we'll have to try and do the best we can. The target once again is to achieve mileage and I'm confident that the car should be able to make it through the whole distance”.
HRT‘s new technical director Toni Cuquerella also managed to put a positive spin on the fact that both of his cars are at the back of the grid:
“We're satisfied with today's result and, in general, with the work the team and drivers put in which, added to the upgrades we've brought to this Grand Prix, have enabled us to qualify comfortably inside the 107%,” he said. “In fact, the better of the two cars is at a 104.4%.
“We're functioning as a team, with normality and without major problems and that in itself is satisfying and proves that we're starting to be at the level which we should have been at the start of the season. From here we have to continue improving as our rivals aren't far away. Tomorrow's objective is to finish with both cars and for the performance shown in qualifying to translate into the race also”.