HRT’s team boss has admitted installing KERS is an unlikely goal for the struggling Spanish team this year.
Luis Perez Sala said the new F112 was designed to accommodate the energy-recovery technology, but qualifying comfortably within the 107 per cent rule is a better target for now. "We have a car we are yet to discover," he told El Confidencial.
Indeed, HRT travelled to Australia last month having hardly run its new Cosworth-powered car, and failed to qualify for the season opener. "It is designed to carry KERS but in the short term we will not (use it). We don’t think we’re going to race with it this year," he added. "So, in this respect, it’s not perfect. Right now, we have assembled the car in a hurry and so the private testing at Mugello, just after Bahrain, will be very important to us."
Sala, having rebuilt HRT following the departure of team boss Colin Kolles, was speaking from HRT’s new headquarters at the Caja Magica (Magic Box). "After Bahrain, we will have the cars here. From the Spanish grand prix, we will begin to function more effectively. "In China and Bahrain we will improve things in the car and the team, but it is a slow process that will last all year. "As I sit here (in Madrid), some people are in Valencia, others in Germany, England … the cars are flying to China and we need to address issues of reliability, not just performance." It is a tough situation for HRT, but Sala concedes that the ‘paddock perception’ of the team is that it has gone backwards since debuting in 2010. "It is really our first year," he insists. He reveals that Bernie Ecclestone, once a staunch critic of the struggling backmarkers, is "quiet". "We have not had any problems, I think he is calm," said Sala.
It is also a busy time off the track for HRT, as many rival teams are busily signing the new Concorde Agreement for 2013. "There are teams that are more advanced than others; for us, the negotiations are still at the beginning," he said. The most obvious goals right now, Sala insists, are to have "a team that works together, has a reliable car and a small team that can develop it, and we’re around 105pc off the pole".