Tag Archives: HRT

Scorpion Racing to buy out liquidated HRT team

A group of Canadian and American investors may just breathe life into the dead HRT Formula 1 team, after it was revealed that the team’s assets are being bought out. This has led to speculation that the group, known as Scorpion Racing, will attempt to bring the team back onto the F1 grid.

It is understood that the deal has the blessing of FOM CEO Bernie Ecclestone, but it is unknown whether Scorpion Racing (if it is officially named as such) would be allowed onto the 2013 grid. The FIA deadline for 2013 applicants closed back in November 2012, and with the HRT liquidation soon after, the team were barred from re-competing in the sport.

Plans are believed to be in an “advanced stage”. Scorpion Racing plan to run the team from a base near the Silverstone circuit, and continue to run a Cosworth engine package and Williams gearbox.

Ecclestone has written to the team, stating: “Have you bought the HRT company? Because if you have, they [the FIA] would be accepting you.”

More details will be added as they emerge.

HRT removed from FIA entry list for 2013

The future of the HRT F1 team has been all but decided, after not appearing on the FIA entry list for the 2013 season.

This means that the team were unable to pay the $500,000 entry fee required. HRT were put up for sale by owners Thesan Capital several weeks ago, but have been unsuccessful in finding a buyer, one of the primary reasons being a poor choice of team location (Madrid).

The only other item of note is that Sauber appear not to have fully confirmed Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Gutierrez as their drivers, but this should be corrected soon.

End of the road for HRT?

The future of the HRT F1 team has been in doubt for several weeks. It was put up for sale, in order to pay the FIA entry fee for the 2013 season.

However, recent events at the team’s Madrid headquarters indicate that the situation is beyond fixing. Journalist Joe Saward has reported on team members being coerced into redundancy:

"Team members became irate when they were not allowed to leave the premises until 
they agreed to sign a contract termination document; and that personal effects, 
such as car keys, were withheld."

Even more worryingly, the team's presence at the Brazilian Grand Prix was under serious threat. The same article notes that several crucial components on the car had gone beyond their scheduled life. It wouldn't be out of the question to assume that the team had run out of funds to replace the parts.

With the FIA entry fee issue not going away (I don't know when the due date is), HRT's future in F1 appears to be slipping away further every day.

Qing Hua Ma to become first Chinese F1 driver in Monza first practice

Qing Hua Ma will drive a Formula 1 car for the first time next weekend, in a HRT at the Italian Grand Prix.

It will be the first time ever that a Chinese person has driven a Formula 1 car in an official session. Ma will take the place of Indian driver Narain Karthikeyan for FP1.

Earlier in the year, he drove for HRT in a one-day Young Driver’s Test in Silverstone.

The 24-year-old has previously driven in A1 GP, Formula Renault 2.0, Spanish F3, British F3 National Class and Superleague Formula without success, but last year won the 1600c China Touring Car Championship. He came to the attention of the press in July, after crying after completing his first laps in the HRT F112:

He is not the first Chinese person to drive an F1 car, however. Ho Pin Tung completed a test drive for the Renault F1 team back in 2009.

Canadian Grand Prix analysis: McLaren nearly cost Hamilton dearly

Formula 1 has set another record – this time it’s 7 different race winners in a row from the start of the season. If this goes on for another two races, then it will be an all-time record for consecutive winners.

But, we were very close to not seeing this new record at all. As viewers noticed on Sunday, McLaren very nearly ruined Lewis Hamilton’s race win…

Another close shave for McLaren

McLaren’s strategy call of a 2-stopper was always going to be risky, considering how well others could conserve their tyres. However, the team appeared to massively underestimate their opponents.

On the pit radio, they stated that they believed that Vettel and Alonso could not one-stop. This risky call grew more and more doubtful, as the duo continued to stay out.

By the time they had realised their mistake, Lewis had a lot of time to make up. Luckily, he was up to the task, and snatched victory in the dying laps. But, even after the Red Bull and Ferrari, Hamilton was lucky Grosjean didn’t win the race.

By falling behind Paul di Resta at the start, the Frenchman lost about 10 seconds, and a (mathemeatically) probable victory. Fortunately for McLaren, his start-line mistake spared their blushes.

Radical Ferrari back on track

A risky strategy left Fernando Alonso in control of the race – and he nearly held it to the end.

The F2012 is already a far cry from the dangerous beast that thrashed its way through the corners in Melbourne. The deficit to the frontrunners was slashed in half a few races ago, and thanks to Fernando’s pace, the Maranello squad are back in contention for race wins.

Unfortunately, this is only the case for one of their drivers. Felipe Massa qualified and started close to his teammate, but ultimately fell prey to the track’s challenging Turn 1.

Still, it has become clear that Ferrari are back in the title hunt. When Alonso led the championship after Malaysia, it was called a miracle. For that to still happen only 5 races later is simply incredible.

HRT’s dash for glory falls short

As the midfield and frontrunners become increasingly assimilated, the trailing three teams lead exceptionally lonely races.

Last weekend, it appeared as if HRT were aiming to change that – albeit briefly. Pedro de la Rosa ran well all throughout Friday practice, qualifying and the start of the race. So much so, in fact, that he was leading the Marussias, Caterhams, and even Bruno Senna.

Clearly, there was more to it than it first appeared. Rumours from the paddock have been circulating that HRT deliberately underfuelled their cars, knowing that their brakes wouldn’t last the distance.

Their suspicions were correct, as De la Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan retired within two laps of each other with brake failures.

Still, their possible plan to get some attention appears to have worked. While this strategy won’t be confirmed by the team, it is more than likely it occurred, since De la Rosa was only 2 seconds a lap slower than the leaders before he retired.

HRT not allowed to race in Australia

Neither HRT will start the Australian GP

Neither HRT will start the Australian GP

HRT will not race tomorrow’s Australian Grand Prix after failing to qualify.

The troubled team failed to qualify within the 107% rule by over a second, and the stewards threw out their request to take part in the race.

This is the second year a row that HRT have failed to qualify for the first race of the season. Narain Karthikeyan, who was 1.4 seconds off the 107% rule, blamed DRS and hydraulics failures on his F112:

"I didn't have the DRS working and had issues with the power steering, so we 
could have easily been in.

The DRS alone is worth about nine tenths [of a second], and the power steering 
is virtually non-existent, it's almost impossible to drive. I think the problem 
is that the hydraulics are getting so hot, the viscosity of the fluid is thinner."

Interestingly, Karthikeyan also claimed the team would struggle massively in Malaysia. He cited cooling issues on the F112, combined with Kuala Lumpur's extreme temperatures, as the reason for this.

F1 2012 season opener preview

There’s only a few days to go until the Formula 1 season kicks off again – the off-season really does fly by.

But there’s no time to waste. With everyone gearing up for a much closer title fight this year, it’s time to take one last glance at the pack, and try to predict how the teams will fare in Melbourne:

Red Bull

Red Bull may well battle with McLaren for 2012

Red Bull may well battle with McLaren for 2012

Nobody can deny that Red Bull will be at the front this year – it’s almost a given.

However, that’s not to say that the Adrian Newey-designed RB8 will run away with the title again. The ban on exhaust-blown diffusers has cut their advantage to the other teams, and further restrictions on front wing flexibility put them under greater pressure over the winter.

Sebastian Vettel is still the team #1 after back-to-back world titles. While Mark Webber is gearing up to challenge his teammate, I don’t think the Australian is up to the challenge. The best indicator of Webber’s performance will be in Australia, where Mark has never finished higher than 5th. If he can break his streak of bad luck, then he may be in with a chance.

Still, I predict a Vettel pole position in Australia – after that nobody can be certain.

McLaren

The MP4-27 may well being McLaren back to winning ways

The MP4-27 may well being McLaren back to winning ways

Pre-season testing has indicated that the Woking squad are back in top form in 2012.

However, they have a mighty challenger in the form of Red Bull. Both teams have tested out radical innovations on their cars, and it is still unclear who possesses the faster car. While Red Bull appear to have good qualifying pace, McLaren have performed well in long-fuel runs, similar to the 2011 season.

Lewis Hamilton’s well-publicised problems from 2011 appear to be behind him. The Brit has admitted he spent many nights partying during the 2011 season, which may well explain his loss of focus. There’s no doubt that Lewis is a fantastically talented driver, but there is also no excuse for underperforming in 2012.

His teammate, Jenson Button, will be looking to capitalise on a relatively successful 2011 season, and is hoping to beat Lewis again. However, if Hamilton has tackled his personal issues, then there may well be a brilliantly tight battle between the two this year.

Ferrari

Ferrari are yet to understand their F2012

Ferrari are yet to understand their F2012

While the front two teams have already established themselves as title contenders before the season opener, Ferrari are still unsure as to their pace. How they react to their radical F2012 will be fascinating.

Fernando Alonso will continue to push the team – and the car – to the limits, and there is little doubt that Felipe Massa will be left trailing behind. Ferrari have a perfect team leader in Alonso, and Felipe’s #1 spot at the team (inherited in 2007) has been well and truly taken away from him.

With such a differing driver line-up, the constructor’s title is already out of reach for Ferrari. However, depending on how Ferrari react to developing their F2012, Alonso may challenge for the driver’s title later on.

Mercedes

Mercedes will be looking to challenge the top 3

Mercedes will be looking to challenge the top 3

If Ferrari even stumble, Mercedes appear poised to snatch 3rd place in the constructor’s table from them.

After two disappointing years following the Brawn GP fairytale, things appear to be coming together for Mercedes. Team principal Ross Brawn has assembled some of the sport’s finest engineers to work on the W03, which showed good pace in pre-season testing.

Despite his age, Michael Schumacher may still be a force to be reckoned with. Nico Rosberg meanwhile will be looking to take his first ever race victory – compared to Michael’s colossal 91 wins.

It is unlikely that the team can challenge for the titles this year, but nobody can fully rule them out. Starting the season at the front is absolutely crucial.

Lotus

Lotus will be looking to establish themselves

Lotus will be looking to establish themselves

With a new name and new driver line-up, Lotus are the midfield team to keep an eye out for.

The Enstone squad have one of the most exciting driver combinations on the grid – a former world champion and current GP2 title holder. It is more than likely that Kimi Raikkonen will assert himself as #1 in the team, but Romain Grosjean may well keep him on his toes.

What’s of more importance to the team is moving up the grid. After the frontal-exhaust disaster last year, the E20 appears to be much faster and more reliable, despite the chassis issue that ruled the team out of 4 testing days.

Like Mercedes, they are unlikely to make a massive jump up the grid, but I would be very surprised if Lotus were to finish any lower than 5th.

Force India

Force India are looking to stay on top of the midfield

Force India are looking to stay on top of the midfield

Lotus aren’t the only team looking to make progress in 2011. After several impressive performances last year, Force India will be looking to push their way to the top of the midfield.

Adrian Sutil has been ditched after 5 years of faithful service, and his F1 career appears to be over. He has been replaced by Nico Hulkenberg, who gets another shot in F1 after a good 2010 campaign with Williams.

The team have recently received a $32m cash injection from owner Vijay Mallya, so finances aren’t an issue. What the team want is a progressively faster car than last year – the VJM05 appears to be delivering so far.

Alongside Paul di Resta, this is another exciting driver line-up. This battle is much more difficult to call, but I think Di Resta will stay just on top.

Sauber

Sauber may struggle in 2012

Sauber may struggle in 2012

Another midfield team looking to make progress, Sauber may find themselves squeezed out this year.

While their driver line-up of Kobayashi and Perez is an impressive one, I fear the team has not kept up with the development of the rest of the grid. The team saw a massive slide in pace during the second half of 2011, and the loss of James Key was a massive blow.

With teams like Force India and Lotus looking to move up the grid, there may be no improvement from Sauber in 2012.

Toro Rosso

Ricciardo and Vergne will battle it out at Toro Rosso

Ricciardo and Vergne will battle it out at Toro Rosso

The latest batch of Sebastian Vettel wannabes are in, and look set to provide an exciting battle for 2012.

Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo are in, ousting Sebastian Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari, who had well and truly overstayed their welcome. With little to no F1 experience (several races for HRT doesn’t do much for Ricciardo), we have no idea who will end up on top.

The STR7 looks solid, but doesn’t seem to be pushing the team up the order. Most of the focus this year will be on the driver pairing, to see can either of them join Vettel at Red Bull.

Williams

Williams look set for another dismal season

Williams look set for another dismal season

After a dismal 2011 season, it appears unlikely that Williams will recover this season.

The Fw34 has been disappointing in testing, frequently ending up at the back of the pack. Bruno Senna brings a fresh face to the team, but Pastor Maldonado stays on, and frequent readers of this site know how I feel about him.

They may prove me wrong, but I see little improvement for Williams this year.

Caterham

Caterham must make progress in 2012

Caterham must make progress in 2012

After two years stranded in F1′s no-man’s-land, Caterham will be looking to push forward and join the midfield.

Failure is not an option for this team – they have spent way too much money to continue to fall behind teams like Williams and Sauber. Unlike HRT and Marussia, Caterham invested financially according to where they thought they would finish in several years, not where they would end up in the beginning. Banking their future on FIA payouts is risky, but it’s been done in F1 before.

Vitaly Petrov replaces the direly slow Jarno Trulli, and may give Heikki Kovalainen a run for his money.

HRT

Another season at the back for HRT - but that's all that's needed

Another season at the back for HRT - but that's all that's needed

After finally turning a wheel before the opening race for the first time in their history, HRT have made ever so slight progress towards stability – albeit at the back of the grid.

With the oldest driver line-up on the grid, the team will be sorely lacking in pace. However, the most important thing for the team is that they stay afloat – many new teams collapse within the first two years, particularly back in the 1990s.

A neat livery may gain them some fans, but otherwise it’s business as usual at the back of the pack. They may struggle to reach the 107% rule in the opening rounds.

Marussia

Marussia will be looking to beat HRT

Marussia will be looking to beat HRT

After finishing last yet again, Marussia will be looking to pull themselves ahead of HRT in the standings in 2012.

Rookie Charles Pic will find it most difficult, having little to no experience of the MR01 before Melbourne. I would be surprised if he were to survive the 107% chop in Q1.

Timo Glock, after proving his worth against all his teammates so far, deserves better than to be languishing in 23rd place all year, and the future of the team may well rest in his hands. No pressure, of course.

 

Of course, all of these predictions could fly out the window by the first corner in Melbourne! Either way, it’s looking set to be another fantastic season of Formula 1. I’ll be here to cover it every step of the way.

New HRT F112 launched in Barcelona

HRT showed off their F112

HRT showed off their F112

HRT have finally unveiled their F112 car in Barcelona today.

After failing their initial crash tests, the financially troubled team will take part in a filming day today to shake down the car. However, the F112 has still lost out massively from not completing any realistic test laps before Melbourne.

The livery has again been revised from last year. 2011′s design proved to be a hit with the fans, though this may not be the case this year. The base of the car is white, with deep red and gold lines along the side.

The F112 appears to have a stepped nose like many of its competitors, but the lack of front-end pictures makes it difficult to analyse.

A team photo afterwards revealed that Vitantonio Liuzzi was to stay with the team, undoubtedly as a reserve driver.

Latest testing news round-up

As the third test session of 2012 draws to a close, we have only 4 more testing days before the teams roll into Melbourne. While many cars are still sandbagging in terms of pace, a clearer picture of the 2012 grid is now visible. Here is the latest news from the last few days:

HRT pass crash tests, but testing still in doubt

The HRT car has finally passed the FIA crash tests, allowing it to take part in pre-season testing.

However, doubts remain as to whether the team will be able to make it to the final test in Barcelona.

The F112 has been homologated by the FIA after passing the rollhoop test a few days ago. Despite this, the car is still not fully assembled, and sources within the team are only “hopeful” that the struggling team will be able to turn a wheel before Melbourne.

Massa: Ferrari back on track

Felipe Massa believes that Ferrari have finally found the key to unlocking the pace of their F2012.

The Scuderia have been plagued by disappointing pace so far in testing, as they struggled to adapt to the radical car. However, Massa has claimed that the team have found consistent pace:

"I think it's definitely the direction we need to follow for these last days of
testing we have, and I think today was a positive day, not so much in the morning
but in the afternoon.

I have to say that now we are a little bit more positive because we found the
direction to work and I'm sure now, having found the direction, we can see the
development coming.

In the afternoon we were able to do more than eight/nine timed laps consistently.
The laps were very consistent and it was very positive. We still need to work a
lot but at least we found the direction to get a much better car to drive, not
just for laptime for also for consistency."

In the past we didn't have so many directions to follow. This year we have so many
directions, so many possibilities and the most important thing was to find the right
one, and I'm sure we found it."

Still, when asked, on a scale of 1 to 10, how prepared the team was for the upcoming season, Felipe only replied "more than 5".

FIA to tie up ECU loopholes

In the latest attempt to clamp down on teams manipulating exhaust gases to achieve downforce, the FIA have tightened the stricter engine mapping regulations implemented for 2012.

Back in October, it was revealed that new engine mapping regulations would eliminate exhaust gas manipulation. However, an engine supplier has tipped off the governing body, saying that teams had found a way to improve the flow of gases by inducing a misfire.

It has been confirmed that the FIA have worked with this engine supplier to remove this innovation. A revised software package for the standard ECU unit will be introduced before the Australian Grand Prix.

Marussia fails crash tests, testing ruled out

Marussia, like fellow team HRT, have failed the crash tests for their 2012 challenger.

However, it comes at a much more critical time, as this means the MR01 almost certainly cannot take part in pre-season testing. As this article was updated, it was unclear what sector the car failed in, but the issue cannot be rectified before March 1st.

A statement from the team read:

"The Marussia F1 Team is disappointed to confirm that the planned first test of 
its 2012 race car – the MR01 – has been delayed as a consequence of not passing 
the final FIA crash test.

All cars are required to pass 18 FIA-observed tests for homologation to be granted. 
Despite the fact that the MR01 has passed all 17 of the preceding tests, the 
regulations require the car to have completed all of the tests before running 
commences.

The team will now not take part in the final pre-season test in Barcelona later 
this week [1-4 March] and will instead focus its efforts on repeating the crash 
test at the end of the week."

First impressions from 2012 Jerez testing

Ferrari have made headlines with their F2012 already

Ferrari have made headlines with their F2012 already

As the first of 4 pre-season tests draw to a close, we are beginning to form an idea of how the grid might shape out this year. Several news stories have also added interest to the speculation, as teams try to hold their cards close to their chests.

Here is the summary of news and events from testing so far:

Ferrari doubtful over pace?

Despite Fernando Alonso leading the timesheets on day 4 of testing, the Ferrari team are remaining quiet on whether their car can compete against Red Bull. Felipe Massa refused to clarify how he felt on the F2012, and technical director Pat Fry said the team still had lots of work to do:

"I am not happy with where we are at the moment. There is a lot of room for us 
to improve. Reliability-wise it is good. Performance-wise I think we are okay.

But we can play around with the performance and improve the car in some corners, 
and some particular parts of the corner. But I would not say I am happy yet until 
we get the whole thing working."

Force India feeling positive

Meanwhile, the Force India team are very happy with their progress over the winter.

Targeting 5th place in this year's championship, their VJM05 appears to have a solid baseline for the team to build on. After missing a day of testing due to Jules Bianchi's mishap, Nico Hulkenberg was happy with their progress:

"The long runs were useful for that and it also allowed me to start understanding 
the new tyres. There is still a massive amount to learn and lots of data to look 
at, but it feels like we have a good baseline to develop from and I’m pleased with 
how the day went."

HRT to miss testing again?

HRT's embarrassing 3-year drought of not setting a single lap in testing looks set to continue, as the F112 (more than likely the car's name) failed the mandatory FIA crash tests last week.

This year, a new regulation forces the teams to have passed the 17 crucial crash tests before the car can take part in testing. However, HRT's car only passed 14 of these. Reports suggest that the car failed the roll hoop and lateral nose tests by "a minor margin".

However, this still means that the car will not be ready for the second test in Barcelona. While the team are still aiming to turn a wheel before the first race in Melbourne, it is not an encouraging sign for the fledgling team.

Until the new car passes crash tests, Pedro de la Rosa will continue to drive last year's F111.

McLaren and Ferrari exhausts declared legal

After the reactive ride height controversy last month, the FIA's Charlie Whiting has approved exhaust layouts designed by Ferrari and McLaren.

A ban on exhaust blown diffusers this year forced teams to make their exhaust outlets visible from above, and have no influence on the performance of the diffuser. However, other teams in the paddock were worried that Ferrari and McLaren had found a way to manipulate exhaust gases to benefit other aero sections of the car.

While this would appear to be against technical regulations, Whiting has given the green light to both teams. According to Sky Sport's Ted Kravitz, this will prompt more aggressive exhaust designs for other teams in the Barcelona tests:

"I understand from sources in the pit lane that FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting 
has told the teams that he considers Ferrari and McLaren exhaust designs as legal.

Even though the way those two teams have packaged their exhaust outlets, with 
channels leading exhaust gases out to specific areas of the car and therefore 
appearing to have a beneficial aero effect, which is against new exhaust regulations, 
it seems Whiting believes that they comply sufficiently with both the letter and the 
intention of the law.

This has been accepted by the other teams, who launched with less aggressive exhaust 
concepts and it means that they will now effectively green light their own, shall we 
say more exotic, exhaust designs.

We can expect to see these in time for the third test in Barcelona, if not before."

 

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