Tag Archives: HRT

Senna: No guarantee of Hispania next year

Bruno Senna has said that the financial problems behind the Hispania team are hurting their attempts to develop their car, and that there can be no guarantee of them being on the grid next year.

Bruno Senna has said that there is no guarantee of Hispania being on the grid next year

Bruno Senna has said that there is no guarantee of Hispania being on the grid next year

After surviving the first half of the year with little resources and no testing whatsoever, it is now emerging that Hispania are now unable to develop their car properly, as they lack the financial backing to do so. This is the reason behind Senna stating that the team may not make it through to next season.

Speaking to the Brazilian media at a news conference yesterday, Bruno said:

"The financial difficulties hinder the development of the car. We 
are able to keep the team running through the end of the year. But 
we can not be like Red Bull, which always has little or big things 
in the car every weekend.

Few teams are guaranteed to be on the grid next year. Formula 1 is 
not easy. The Hispania and other teams can not give that guarantee."

We knew it would be a risk to enter into a new team. But essentially 
it changed between when we signed and the start of the season. We 
made a firm contract and we could not predict what lied ahead."

We had a big learning process. We started the year without testing. 
We have been working and making the most of the car. We had small 
updates to the car like the fuel tank, electronics... Every weekend 
we're getting new things [from the car]."

However, on the other hand, he also said that the Hispania team are in negotiations with the former Toyota team, regarding the acquisition of Toyota F1 car parts, but the situation was complicated, as those parts still need FIA homologation.

Chandhok: Hispania to rotate drivers

HRT driver Karun Chandhok has said that he respects the decision of the team to replace him with Sakon Yamamoto for the German Grand Prix, and went on to say that the Hispania team will continue to rotate its drivers for the rest of the season.

After Bruno Senna was relieved of his race seat for the British Grand Prix, rumours began to circulate about a dispute between him and Colin Kolles. However, since then, it has emerged that the team needs sponsorship money, which has since resulted in Chandhok pushed aside for Yamamoto for next week’s German GP.

Both Chandhok and Senna will be forced to rotate their driver seats with Yamamoto and Klien

Both Chandhok and Senna will be forced to rotate their driver seats with Yamamoto and Klien

It has been revealed that Yamamoto will appear more times across the year, with other test driver Christian Klien also making an appearance somewhere down the line. Karun, however, was not downbeat, saying:

“The team have taken the decision that they’re going to rotate 
drivers between the four of us that are on contracts with the 
team.

At the end of the day we’re not fighting for the World 
Championship or for points and, with the current testing 
regulations, it’s quite difficult for them to evaluate 
drivers during a season. 

All four of us are Superlicence drivers, so we can’t do the 
young driver days at the end of the season, and we also 
missed the pre-season testing. 

It’s a team decision and I’ve got to respect that.”

The problem is that neither Senna or Chandhok had any idea this would happen at the start of the season. It’s very unfair on them, as they have been forced to deal with a dog of a car without any testing. While Klien and Yamamoto both have personal sponsors to bring money to the team, it will cost them a huge amount of time in the development race.

Just look at Minardi for inspiration as to how to run a small F1 team. They resisted using pay drivers, produced a future world champion (Alonso), and were famous for years of fighting away at the back. HRT is as far away as they could get, as they rotate drivers just to stay afloat.

If HRT continue to use pay drivers into next season, I’m afraid to say that they will never get away from the back of the field.

Yamamoto to replace Chandhok for German GP

After the mess of Bruno Senna being replaced for the British Grand Prix weekend, it has now emerged that team-mate Karun Chandhok will be replaced by Sakon Yamamoto for the German Grand Prix. In their statement, HRT also implied that Chandhok may make way for Yamamoto several times more during the season.

Sakon Yamamoto will replace Karun Chandhok at the German Grand Prix

Sakon Yamamoto will replace Karun Chandhok at the German Grand Prix

After Bruno Senna’s seat being handed to Yamamoto in Silverstone for “disciplinary reasons”, as well as the financial benefits of Yamamoto, Karun’s replacement is certainly about the money and not the driver. However, the HRT team still tried to claim that Yamamoto was there because of more than money:

"After Sakon Yamamoto gave a very positive performance in 
Silverstone [sic], the team has decided to give the Japanese 
driver another opportunity to drive the car alongside Bruno 
Senna. Karun Chandhok is still part of the Hispania Racing, 
HRT F1 Team family and is likely to be in the car at some 
later races this season."

Where do we start? Yamamoto was last in qualifying, and was in last place in the race in Silverstone. Although Karun Chandhok was only 1 place ahead of Sakon, he had sustained bodywork damage at the start of the race.

Despite this, Sakon’s sponsorship was enough to convince Colin Kolles to replace Chandhok for the German GP. However, if you look at the team statement above, you can see that the team states: “Karun Chandhok … is likely to be in the car at some later races this season.” This heavily implies that Yamamoto will be taking more races out of Chandhok’s hands, purely so that HRT can survive on the extra sponsorship money.

In my opinion, this is a disaster. Even if HRT are gaining money from this, they are losing whatever fans they had, by juggling their drivers just to stay alive. I’m not annoyed at Yamamoto, it’s Kolles who is at fault here, as it is completely unfair to the drivers. They turned up in Bahrain to get into a car that hadn’t turned a wheel, struggled at the back for 4 months, then have their faith rewarded by being replaced by a worse driver with more money. Then, after one race, they find out that they will be replaced more times just for the team to stay afloat. This is an absolute joke.

Update: The BBC are reporting that Christian Klien is being considered to take part in a (or several) Grand Prix this year, at the expense of either Chandhok or Senna of course. Just brilliant.

Senna-Kolles dispute was behind Yamamoto drive

It has emerged today that the reason Bruno Senna was replaced this weekend by Sakon Yamamoto was because of a dispute between Senna and team principal Colin Kolles. While this switch is only for the British Grand Prix, it was revealed today that it was because for “disciplinary reasons”, as well as the HRT team needing extra funds, which Yamamoto can supply.

Sakon Yamamoto has his sponsors to thank for his drive in the British GP

Sakon Yamamoto has his sponsors to thank for his drive in the British GP

While most news sources are still uncertain over the cause of Senna’s replacement, an argument with Colin Kolles is now appearing as the cause. Bruno Senna has yet to talk to the media or fans this weekend about this issue.

Sakon Yamamoto is sponsored by Japanese companies Sanho and Zoff, and is also supported by Arai Helmets and K-Point. Meanwhile, Bruno Senna’s only sponsors are the ones that are linked to the HRT team. If you go onto Bruno’s website (currently under construction), there is a large box linking to his email saying “Sponsor me”, which says it all. While Senna has been the fastest of the HRT drivers this year, unfortunately the team needs money, and Yamamoto’s once-off drive can bring this.

However, to do this, the team would have had to find a reason to replace one of their drivers. The dispute between Senna and Kolles was believed to have been about sponsorships and HRT’s drivers for next season.

Strangely enough, the exact same situation occurred to Ayrton Senna. In 1984, Ayrton’s first year in Formula 1, he was involved in a dispute with his Toleman team. When he signed for Lotus for the 1985 season without telling his team, he was suspended for one race. History has an odd way of repeating itself.

Yamamoto to replace Senna for British GP weekend

There is confusion in the paddock this weekend, as it appears that Sakon Yamamoto will replace Bruno Senna for the entire weekend of the British Grand Prix. The initial reports were saying this switch was only for Friday, but it now seems that Yamamoto will be driving for HRT all weekend.

Test driver Sakon Yamamoto will replace Bruno Senna for the British GP weekend

Test driver Sakon Yamamoto will replace Bruno Senna for the British GP weekend

Colin Kolles confirmed this switch today, although he refused to be officially quoted ahead of the team announcement tomorrow. He said that the full report will be out shortly, most likely Friday morning. This will be the first time that Yamamoto has driven in an F1 race since the end of the 2007 season.

It is believed that HRT made this decision because they are running short of money, and Yamamoto is very wealthy and has more sponsors than Senna. His signing as a HRT test driver this year appeared to be purely for money, and not for driving skill.

If this is the case, this is disgraceful. Running Yamamoto in practice sessions is fine, where it can get the team some extra money, but this is awful for Senna, who apparently didn’t even hear of the announcement. I realise that HRT need money, but moves like this will do them no favours with the fans, and their pace cannot improve with drivers like Yamamoto instead of Senna.

Update: HRT have confirmed that this change is only for the British GP weekend, and it is a combination of financial and disciplinary matters.

2010 Mid-season review: Hispania

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

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.

Senna claims HRT chassis is damaged

Bruno Senna's recent poor qualifying may have been caused by chassis damage

Bruno Senna's recent poor qualifying may have been caused by chassis damage

Bruno Senna believes that his HRT chassis may be carrying a problem, which has been causing him difficulties in recent races.

His team-mate, Karun Chandhok, out-qualified him in Spain by 4 tenths of a second, and Bruno believes that this may have been caused by damage to the chassis. He is quoted by Brazil’s Globo as saying:

"There is something wrong at the back and we have still not found 
what it is. I only know that it has been eating up the tyres.
Perhaps the floor is loose, we don't know, but whatever it is, it's 
serious. If we don't find what it is then it is possible I will 
have to make several pitstops, because the tyres are not going to 
last. (referring to Spanish GP)"

It may well explain why Chandhok has out-qualified him in 2 out of the last 3 races. If it was the case, I would be amazed as how to the HRT mechanics haven’t spotted it yet, especially if it with the floor as he suggests.

Driving the worst car on the grid must be extremely challenging for Senna and Chandhok, and problems like this really don’t help at all. For Monaco next weekend, their critical lack of downforce will mean they will almost certainly be stuck at the back.

Klien to replace Chandhok in Friday Practice 1

Christian Klien will drive in the Spanish FP1

Christian Klien will drive in the Spanish FP1

HRT have announced that their test driver Christian Klien will replace Karun Chandhok for Friday Practice 1 in Barcelona this weekend. The Austrian driver had just joined HRT this week as their second test driver alongside Sakon Yamamoto.

As well as Fairuz Fauzy and Paul di Resta, Klien will be the third test driver so far this year to be given driving time during the race weekend.Colin Kolles said this about him:

"He is a young and fast driver. I have been keeping a close eye on 
him since his first races in the ADAC series as I believe he has 
great potential. We look forward to having Christian alongside us in 
Barcelona later this week so he can spend some valuable 
familiarization time with the team. As a young team we are looking 
or drivers who can grow with us."

Klien last raced in F1 when he replaced Jenson Button at Honda for one race at the 2007 British Grand Prix. It’s great to see him be given another chance, because he was never really given space to show his potential.

Just one problem I have though: HRT really need to announce news like this better. I only found out that Yamamoto was a test driver by accident, and I only heard about Klien today, even though he was signed earlier this week. And this is just the view of an F1 fan, think of how potential sponsors must be feeling. HRT should definitely shout a bit louder about themselves if they are to progress in the F1 world.

HRT targeting Australian race finish

Colin Kolles (left), team principal of HRT

Colin Kolles (left), team principal of HRT

After the somewhat dissapointing end to HRT’s Bahrain Grand Prix, the team are looking for improvements ahead of the Australian Grand Prix next weekend. According to team principal Colin Kolles, the team is targeting a race finish. He said:

“We have worked extremely hard since the Bahrain season opener. We have worked 
long hours and successfully with Bridgestone, Cosworth and Xtrac learned from 
our first laps with the car and found a good basis from which to start
preparation for our second Grand Prix in Australia in a few days.

We have successfully repaired the damage sustained by Karun Chandhok’s car and 
focused on building our car’s reliability. Our goal is to improve steadily and 
the next step is to work towards our first race finish. I am confident we will 
achieve this goal very soon and having seen how we came together as a team in 
Bahrain I can see just how much potential and commitment we have.”
Bruno Senna, before a radiator leak causes him to retire

Bruno Senna, before a radiator leak causes him to retire

First driver Bruno Senna did get 17 laps in the race, but then the car overheated thanks to a radiator leak, causing retirement. However, the Brazilian is happy with the team’s performance in Bahrain, an hopes to build on that in Melbourne:

“We need to continue building on what we achieved in Bahrain. We put two cars 
together and ran successfully in Bahrain. Now we must continue to work as a 
team. I came early to Australia to acclimatise to the time difference. I love 
Australia more and more, as I spend more time here! I have already driven on 
the Melbourne track, back in 2006.

I did the F3 support race for F1 back then and had a fairly successful weekend. 
I won! Now, I must work with the team to continue learning about the car. I 
have enjoyed working long hours with the team so far and I will be giving my
all as I really want to progress and guarantee them good results.”
Karun Chandhok just after his crash on Lap 2

Karun Chandhok just after his crash on Lap 2

Meanwhile, Karun Chandhok had a much harder time. He wasn’t able to run the car in Friday practice thanks to technical problems. He drove the car for the first time in qualifying, and was only 1.7 seconds behind his team-mate after only 2 laps in the car, which is pretty impressive. He still wasn’t used to the car, however, and crashed on Lap 2 of the race. Chandhok is now looking forward to the race in Australia:

“I am really looking forward to my second F1 race this weekend. I have never 
driven in Melbourne, but I am a very quick learner. I was able to work on a 
team’s simulator before the Grand Prix so that will help my familiarisation a 
little bit! Our next step with the team’s engineers is to make the car 
reliable for the race. The secret of good racing preparation is to complete 
as many laps as possible on Friday to see where we are with the car. Finishing the
race would be a fantastic achievement we will strive for.”

With the complete lack of track time, HRT did what they could in Bahrain. I don’t actually think they will, nor do I expect them to, finish in Melbourne, because of the track’s car-breaker record. Still, if they can set consistent laps for about 20 laps or so, then I would be happy with them. Naturally, with much more track time, I’m hoping for at least one finish each from Lotus and Virgin. All of this will change by Barcelona  (Race 5), and I will be expecting race finishes by all three teams by then.

Todt in favour of 107% rule

Jean Todt

Jean Todt

The president of the FIA, Jean Todt, has said that he is in favour of the reinstation of the 107% rule. However, he stressed that such a rule change would not take place this year, and would be in place by a minimum of 2011.

This year, the three new teams of Lotus, Virgin and HRT have been well off the pace, HRT dangerously so, and this has prompted many people to ask for the old 107% rule back.

The 107% rule is where each driver muct be within 107% of the fastest lap set by the pole sitter. If they aren’t, they are unable to race. Generally, being within 107% of the fastest time means a few seconds or so behind, as it varies by circuit.  While this would be slightly difficult to implement in the current 3-tier qualifying system, it could be done.

Todt is one of the many people in favour of this old rule, saying:

"We are very in favour of reintroducing the 107 percent limit. The reason
 why it was abandoned was because of the change in qualifying which was 
happening with fuel to start the race in the car.

Now to change that for 2010 you need to have the unanimous agreement of 
the teams, and to get the unanimous agreement of the teams the FIA will 
be supporting this solution.

I don't think it will happen so we have to wait until 2011 to introduce 
it."

However, he stated that he was still in favour of having the new teams in F1:

"You must have respect for a new team who is arriving in this particular 
economic crisis period and to invest money to be in F1. I don't think it 
is a time to criticise but to support and help, and to help them, and it 
is in the interests of everybody.

Everybody in the business should be supportive of these days. I was 
impressed today, they did quite well and we must give them a certain 
time to be ready."

I would be mostly in favour of this. The one problem is that, by the time the 107% rule is renistated, the teams will have gotten up to speed, and within a few seconds of the leaders, making the rule mostly defunct.

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