Hispania Racing Team, 0 wins, 0 poles, 11th in Constructors’ Championship
Mmmm. Where to start when thinking about Hispania Racing? What was their 2010 season about? An exercise in survival, certainly. But to what end? Is there a future for the team? Who will design and build their car next year?
These are all intangible questions. In practical terms Hispania was a struggle from start to finish in 2010. The team was still building the cars as the season got underway in Bahrain, with Karun Chandhok’s first run in the car being in qualifying.
The team was born at the 11th hour before the season started from the ashes of former driver Adrian Campos’ dream of running a Spanish F1 team, capitalising on the huge interest in Spain for F1 thanks to Fernando Alonso. But his gamble, that Spanish companies would follow him in, did not materialise. This didn’t stop him getting an approved entry from the FIA, but he was forced to move it on to one of his shareholders, Jose Ramon Carabante, who had little choice but to throw more money at it to protect his original investment.
Colin Kolles came on board as team principal and ran things his way, breaking the technical deal with chassis maker Dallara and going his own way. Ex BAR technical director Geoff Willis did a stint as technical adviser to the team, but he didn’t see the season out. He was critical of Dallara’s work on the car.
The interesting thing about the team is that it did no development work whatsoever on its car, unlike fellow new teams Lotus and Virgin and yet the performance gap to Virgin in particular did not grow much by the end of the season. This indicates that the original Dallara car cannot have been too bad, as well as being a little dispiriting for Virgin.
The drivers were rotated through the year with Karun Chandhok and Bruno Senna starting the season, Senna missing Silverstone and then Chandhok missing most of the rest of the year. Sakon Yamamoto and Christian Klien filled in. Financial considerations outweighed all else in the battle to make it to the end of the season. There was no love lost between Senna and Kolles, with the Romanian dropping Senna at Silverstone for disciplinary reasons. Senna had been signed before the Carabante takeover and Kolles found it hard to get rid of him so they co-existed uneasily. The Brazilian seemed unsettled by the goings on behind the scenes in the team and felt he did not have a chance to show the F1 world what he could really do.
In November it was announced that Juan Villalonga, the former CEO of telecoms giant Telefonica, had come on board as a partner of the team. The responsibility for finding the money to continue with the team lies in his hands.
They suggested that they would go into 2011 with an updated version of the 2010 car, albeit with a Williams gearbox and back end, risking the possibility of being outside the 107% rule and therefore not qualifying for the race.
But on January 5th Carabante said on Spanish radio that a new car, designed by Willis would be raced in 2011, “The car is being made partly in Germany and partly in England, and it will be ready. We have been working on it for some time, and it will be in Bahrain, for sure. Last year was much more difficult. This time we will be in the winter tests.
“[The aim for 2011 is] to consolidate and be a step further ahead than last year. It is a long-term project, and we will see if in two or three years we are established, as was the initial idea.”
I’ve heard very recently that they have borrowed some money to build this car, but there is clearly quite a bit going on behind the scenes with this team.