There is pretty much a universal agreement that, if Colin Kolles and Jose Ramon Carabante had not taken over this new team, then Hispania (or Campos as it used to be known) certainly wouldn’t have made the grid. While their grid position has not changed a single bit since the start of the season, Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok have at least got into competition with Virgin at the back of the field.
Since Bahrain, HRT have cut the gap to the front in half
It seems like such a long time ago, when Bruno Senna sent out the HRT car for the first time in Bahrain. The suspension was broken, speed was nonexistent, as was grip or downforce. Senna’s first two laps in the car were 11 seconds off the pace. Their qualifying times were well off the 107% rule that will be intorduced next year, and it seemed like a waste of time going to the first race at all.
The race was no better. Chandhok lasted an entire lap before crashing his car, and Senna’s car overheated on Lap 17, and that was the end of it. While they had made no impact on the race, I’m sure the team were relieved to have made it. Now that they had broken their way into F1, they could concentrate on developing the car, to catch up with the midfield.
But, there was another problem. Dallara, the company who made the chassis of the car, promised to make changes to the F110, but never did so, meaning that HRT were forced to spend the first 6 races with absolutely no chasss development at all, meaning they were losing even more pace to the other teams. After the Monaco Grand Prix, Hispania ended their contract with Dallara, and have since been developing the car on their own.
However, since the start of the season, HRT have come a long way in terms of raw pace. In Bahrain qualifying, they were 8 seconds off the pace of polesitter Sebastian Vettel. However, up to the last race in Valencia, this deficit has been cut in half, as Bruno Senna was only 4.5 seconds off the pole position lap. In other races such as Monaco, where aerodynamic grip isn’t as necessary, both cars leapfrogged the Virgin and Lotus cars, and later on Karun Chandhok was battling with Jarno Trulli for position, with a heavy crash at La Rascasse being the result. Seeing as Chandhok was in front, and it was an over-opportunistic move by Trulli, it’s safe to say that Karun could well have fnished in front of the Lotus.
Having said that, from this year to the next, I would be surprised if their line-up remained the same. Test driver Christian Klien has replaced Karun Chandhok for 2 Friday Practice sessions so far this year, and has performed well on both occasions. While many would feel that Chandhok has not been given enough time to prove his potential, there are rumours that he could well be replaced, mainly due to a lack of sponsorship money.
Their rate of development so far has been impressive, but unfortunately it will only get harder from here, as it becomes more difficult to extract more performance out of the car. A points finish is asking too much out of them, but more competing for position with the Virgin and possibly Lotus cars would be a good improvement.