HRT had what they describe as their best qualifying session of 2012 today in Monaco as Pedro de la Rosa finished the session just a tenth of a second off the pace of lead Marussia driver Timo Glock and within 103.6% of the best time.
The Spaniard qualified 21st after setting a faster time than team-mate Narain Karthikeyan and Marussia‘s Charles Pic, and Sergio Perez crashed out in Q1. He will actually start tomorrow’s Monaco Grand Prix one place higher after Pastor Maldonado was given a ten-place grid penalty for causing an accident in Free Practice 3 this morning, and then took a five-place penalty after having his gearbox changed.
“It was the best qualifying session of the year and, without a doubt, the best lap I've ever done in Monaco,” said de la Rosa. “The car went well and we decided to do three runs with three new sets of super-softs because we already know that in Monaco the most important thing is to do one good lap. And that's just what happened and I'm delighted about it because getting into the 18.0's here is very good.
“I'm very satisfied because we got our timing right, the team knew when was the right moment to come out in order to avoid traffic and I accomplished my job, which was to do the best lap possible. I must admit I took some risks, on some laps in the last sector I even almost closed my eyes, but I had to attack and did just that.
“With one more tenth we would have also overtaken Glock but the truth is that we're very happy with how the day went”.
Karthikeyan noted that he only had two runs in Q1, rather than the three that his team-mate enjoyed.
“We carried out a different strategy to Pedro, and went for two runs when maybe three would have been better,” said the Indian driver. “The positive note is that we have one more set of new option tyres for tomorrow's race and we have to get the best out of them. Pedro and I have been quite closely matched all weekend and I'm sure we'll have a good pace tomorrow. Although, if it rains it will be a bit of a lottery. Whatever happens, we have to be ready to make the most of any opportunity that may arise”.
“The minor upgrades which we've brought to Monaco have helped us to achieve the best qualifying result in the history of HRT Formula 1 Team by finishing Q1 103.6% off the best time,” added Technical Director Toni Cuquerella. “Besides, we also managed to finish much closer to our main rivals, which is very important. The red flag forced us to alter our strategy; with Pedro we decided to switch to two short runs, whilst with Narain we continued with our original plan and did one run.
“We got our timing right since we were on the track at the right time and you could consider Pedro's lap to be perfect. It's a shame that Narain was unable to set a similar time but tomorrow he should have a good pace in the race. It will be an open race and I'm sure that we will be competitive and will fight to gain positions”.