Pedro de la Rosa, Interlagos, HRT, 2012

HRT’s failure is a small but significant loss for F1

2012 F1 season reviewPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Pedro de la Rosa, Interlagos, HRT, 2012

Of the three teams which made their Formula One debuts in 2010, HRT always seemed to have the shakiest grip on survival.

As the 2011 season ended the team lost technical director Geoff Willis to Mercedes, followed shortly by team principal Colin Kolles, amid reports over concerns about the amount of money new owners Thesan Capital were putting into the team.

These were borne out when Thesan put the team up for sale last month. But their lack of an entry for 2013 makes their value to a potential buyer doubtful.

HRT team stats 2012

Best race result (number) 15 (1)
Best grid position (number) 20 (4)
Non-finishes (mechanical/other) 11 (7/4)
Laps completed (% of total) 1,825 (76.55%)
Laps led (% of total) 0 (0%)
Championship position (2011) 12 (11)
Championship points (2011) 0 (0)
Pit stop performance ranking 12

The team soldiered on in the meantime using an updated version of its previous car, which itself was based on the chassis Dallara created for them in 2009.

New technical director Tony Cuquerella did what he could but with limited funds updates were rare and the team felt the F112 had much untapped potential. Plans to use a Williams-supplied KERS were scrapped.

As was the case last year, the team failed to qualify in Melbourne having not run in pre-season testing, but reached the grid in every other race.

They briefly got on terms with Marussia as the European season began but the shortage of funds told as the season went on.

The vastly inexperienced Chinese driver Ma Qing Hua appeared in the car during a few practice sessions, even as the team tried to acclimatise to the new Circuit of the Americas – something which was clearly not being done for performance reasons.

Late in the year there were worrying rumours about the state of the teams’ parts and claims some components were being used beyond their intended lifespan. Pedro de la Rosa firmly denied such claims when asked in America.

“We might be modest, we are small and we are what we are,” he said. “We are a professional Formula One team and for sure when we start running it’s because the car is safe. I’m experienced enough too, you know, I would never jump into an unsafe car because of parts being too old. So no, the answer is, the car is slow but it’s safe.”

Questions were asked following a series of failures late in the year suffered by Narain Karthikeyan in Korea (brakes), de la Rosa in India (brakes again) and Karthikeyan in Abu Dhabi (hydraulics).

The disappearance of HRT from next year’s F1 entry list raises the prospect of there being just 22 cars on the grid next year.

A loss for Formula One

Narain Karthikeyan, HRT, Buddh International Circuit, 2012While no one would pretend they were a particularly competitive outfit during their three years in F1, the loss of them amounts to a shrinking of the Formula One universe which we should be concerned about.

One fewer team means two fewer drivers, and reduces the number of countries whose representatives appear in the sport. If nothing else, HRT’s presence ensured India had a home driver on the grid for its first two world championship races.

The Formula One ecosystem has lost one of its minnows. While most attention is understandably focused on the teams at the front, the importance of a well-filled grid for the health of the sport shouldn’t be overlooked. In the ongoing debate over the quality of racing in F1, the simple fact that if there are more cars on the track there will be more going on tends to get overlooked.

For proof of that, consider that had Sebastian Vettel not come across Karthikeyan’s HRT in Malaysia and America, the drivers’ championship would not have had the nail-biting down-to-the-wire climax we all enjoyed.

HRT drivers’ 2012 race results

Pedro de la Rosa 21 21 20 19 17 20 21 22 18 18 17 18 17 21 17
Narain Karthikeyan 22 22 21 15 18 21 23 19 20 21 22 18

HRT drivers’ 2012 laps per position

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24
Pedro de la Rosa 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 3 0 0 12 36 77 77 113 108 222 151 116 12
Narain Karthikeyan 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 6 2 1 1 9 12 18 11 36 118 86 117 234 125 120

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Images ?? HRT F1 Team

79 comments on “HRT’s failure is a small but significant loss for F1”

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  1. Am sorry if I been a bit harsh but to be very honest a team that is match by pace GP2 cars don’t deserve an F1 slot,yeah it represents countries but in the last few races of 2012 they struggle very badly in terms of money.

    1. @wasif1

      a team that is match by pace GP2 cars don’t deserve an F1 slot

      HRT were on average almost four seconds per lap quicker than the GP2 pole sitter based on a comparison of dry qualifying sessions this year:

      Malaysia: HRT 2.5 seconds quicker
      Bahrain: HRT 3.4 seconds quicker
      Spain: HRT 3.1 seconds quicker
      Monaco: HRT 3.1 seconds quicker
      Europe: HRT 5.2 seconds quicker
      Hungary: HRT 3.0 seconds quicker
      Italy: HRT 4.4 seconds quicker
      Singapore: HRT 7.1 seconds quicker

      1. That would have been painful for HRT: complaining that Dallara had given them a piece of rubbish, and then building their won car that is slower than a 2 year old GP2 Dallara. Good thing this isn’t the case.

        HRT was practically a project that was doomed to fail. With unsufficient funds, the team tried to make the best of it and that they lasted for three whole seasons is an accomplishment on its own.

  2. thats good news, they were driving danger to other drivers apart from themselves of course… HRT was total disaster from start till end. thank god not to see them again

  3. what do you think if the ‘new’ (got to stop calling them that) teams were allowed an additional driver test day, whereby as a sign of sportsmanship, World Championship winning drivers/teams would test their cars, to give real advice on where the car is, what to and what not to develop.

    Back when Renault had their famous launch control – wasn’t there some restriction on testing for the top of the grid teams, and lower down teams had an extra session on Thus/Friday or something?

    I would love to see what Alonso or Ham could do with them (in my opinion they seem to be able to drive a car to the edge of its limits and a bit beyond more so than the other drivers).

  4. I never had much hope of HRT improving and a hopless team is no fun to watch. Hopefully this will have some positive consequences in that it brings focus to the fact that we’re short a team now. I would like to see two new teams, hopefully with some better backing and ambition. After all the experience we got from HRT failing is not that its impossible to succeed in F1, just that they will have to try harder.

  5. It’s a bit of a double-edged sword this situation in my opinion. On the one hand, it is sad to see HRT leave and it would be nice to see the whole universe of F1 being a bit more inviting for them but then again, this is not a charity and shouldn’t be treated as one. You get little sympathy in football where this is just as great a divide with money. No one is forced to compete in F1 and we all know the risks. Joining the sport a midst the worst financial disaster in recent history then you’ve got to expect things will be extremely difficult.

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