Formula 1 teams will get their first chance to complete in-season testing in four years at Mugello next week, but HRT has opted to skip the three-day session in order to prioritise the relocation of the team’s headquarters to Madrid.
Since making its debut in 2010 the Spanish-backed squad’s appearances in official group tests have been fleeting to say the least with the team, aside from the end-of-season Young Driver sessions and the first Pirelli tyre test, only appearing in pre-season sessions over the past two seasons with what were by then year-old cars.
HRT went into this season with the F112 on the back of a single promotional day of filming at Barcelona after another troubled winter but despite having the opportunity to finally work on the car away from the pressure of a grand prix weekend, the team today announced that as the long-awaited relocation of its headquarters to Madrid’s Caja Mágica sports structure is underway, and the first upgrade package of the car won’t be ready until the following week’s grand prix in Spain in any case, it “prefers to focus its efforts and resources on the new headquarters, work on the car and properly preparing for the Spanish Grand Prix”.
Team principal Luis-Perez Sala added: “The start to the season was a little bit rushed for us and, since the cars were set up for the first time, we have been working on them at the Grands Prix. The team and the material have just got back from Bahrain after leaving for Australia in early March. And they return, for the first time, to the team’s new headquarters at the Caja Mágica in Madrid.
“This move is very important for us and by not going to Mugello we can work thoroughly on the car to prepare for the Spanish Grand Prix. We won’t have the new upgrade package until then so we’ve preferred to focus on what can contribute more to us, which is teamwork at the headquarters. And there is a lot to do.”
However, while HRT again won’t be in attendance for an official test, Ferrari is preparing to welcome its other 10 fellow teams to its picturesque test facility in Tuscany from Tuesday – the first time the circuit will have been used to test up-to-date F1 cars since the Maranello marque ran its F60 there in January 2009, and the first time two or more teams have been in action since 2007.
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has been one of the most outspoken critics of the heavy restrictions placed on testing for cost reasons in recent years, the Italian team having previously benefitted from the unique position of owning two test tracks at Fiorano and Mugello - something it took full advantage of during its glory years at the start of the century. Indeed a glance back through the record books shows that Ferrari used Mugello for 14 multiple-day test sessions alone during the course of the 2002 season!
Next week’s test actually comes at what Stefano Domenicali has described as a “very important” moment for the team as it looks to press into service a raft of updates to turn the F2012’s competitiveness around. The team has confirmed that Fernando Alonso will be in the car on days one and three with Felipe Massa taking the middle day.
Lotus and Caterham, meanwhile, are using the first day of the test to give first 2012 run-outs to test drivers Jerome d’Ambrosio and Rodolfo Gonzalez respectively, before both teams’ race drivers get one day in the cars apiece.