F1 Winter Break
A personal review of the F1 year – Hispania Racing Team
A personal review of the F1 year – Hispania Racing Team
Posted By: James Allen  |  05 Jan 2011   |  1:03 am GMT  |  59 comments

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.

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Probably won’t be the first to break the news but apparently Narain Karthikeyan signed a deal to drive for HRT in 2011. Surreal! At least one piece of the puzzle has fallen into place. Now all they gotta do is keep Chandhok to beat Force India (at least in the name department, I mean “Indian Dream F1 Team” is an option, “Maharishi Racing”?).


LOL, so we will have two “Lotus” teams and other two “India” teams, as well as one “Red Bull” and one “Toro Rosso”. Funny, isn’t it?


“his pensive face is staring at you everywhere and Santander-branded reproductions of Ferrari tractors (using Prost’s words) are featured in all possible places”

Oh really? Have you ever been to Spain any time apart from Europe GP?


Yeah, been to a few places like Jerez, not bad in general. Hotels are dilapidated, coffee is expensive but petrol is cheap on the other hand. In winter testing I try to choose dates when Alonso is not present to avoid crowds and crazy screaming fans, it interferes with my concentration…

To be honest, I rate Spanish MotoGP riders higher than Spanish F1 drivers, no offence.


Ok, it’s no offence, Spanish GP riders are 2010 World Champions (and also #2) in all three classes, so it’s hard to be rated better that them… Also, Spanish drivers have been Moto GP champions consistently since the 1970’s, while we have had F1 drivers only from the late nineties.

Btw, I’m surprised that you found the hotels are “dilapidated”. Ok, it’s your opinion. Maybe you could look for more expensive ones, let’s say, from “two stars” category and upwards.


Well, since my occupation in the “real world” has to do with tourism, I may be a bit critical sometimes; I know what hotel managers should be doing but usually ignore it in order to cut costs. Generally older hotels both in Spain and Portugal leave a lot to be desired, but then again I operate on a very tight budget so… beggars can’t be choosers. I’ll try to avoid ancient hotels in the centre of Jerez this time. Valencia left a good impression in general, tourist-friendly place but they had no Port or even Sherry at the bar, and never heard about Madeira! I mean these are the pillars of any decent bar.

Apparently, Paris Hilton now owns a team in 125cc aka Moto3 from 2012 onwards. That’s classy. Pink bikes… never stayed at Hilton before by the way.


I thought HRT were basically a disorganised shambles. They seemed to have no clear direction and don’t really seem to know what they actually want to achieve.. “we’d like to be established in 2-3 years” what does that mean?

It just seems like a bunch of money-men bought into a team but then realised it was rubbish and valueless but were stuck with it.

Thier treatment of the drivers was just silly too. I’m not surprised that Senna got annoyed with the team and had a falling out – he was watching a shambolic team make a mockery of his chance at the big time. I’m actually more suprised that Karun managed to keep his head together throughout it all.

Basically, I think they seem like they have no direction or clear idea of where they are going, all the decisions they make seem to be on the hoof and the team is just going to end up getting passed around various shady financial backers for a few years till either someone decent buys it or someone puts it, and it’s drivers, out of their misery.


People forget that F1 has always had poor teams. HRT are just the last in a long line. They have their place as incubators for new drivers. Minardi formerly had this spot. Look what it did for Alonso, Webber, etc. So I think there is a role for them in the future.




likewise there are quite a few pay drivers willing to take the leap for that “chance in f1”.

f1 bosses and engineers can read between the lines with the massive amounts of data to confirm if you’re the real deal or not.

also, many of the smaller teams regularly rent out the simulators of the big teams. easy assessment there too.


James, have you seen this quote from Colin Kolles? It’s from an interview i just found on the official F1 site.

“It was a difficult year but we were the most reliable new team. I think the only reason why we did not finish 10th is that teams like Lotus and Virgin had more experienced drivers during the whole season. I think that in testing we showed quite a good performance in relation to the other new teams”

That’s positive spin taken to the extreme isn’t it?


“I think that in testing we showed quite a good performance” TESTING I guess he means Friday Practice sessions. lol


The car wasn’t the best F1 car to grace us, but it was reliable, and they had two rookies. As James pointed out, they maintained their gap to the Virgins for the entire year as their operation tightened the reins and really began to understand the car more. The car had zero development for the entire year and they finished surprisingly in 11th which is the best result they could’ve imagined without testing or development.

cliché yes but to finish first, first you must finish. They achieved this goal numerous times and their end results reflect this.


Unfortunately, HRT were a dreadful waste of space. I really can’t imagine what criteria they fulfilled to gain entry.


2010 was a very bad first year for HRT. The team operated like a up-sized GP2 or Formula 2 team. They were very unprofessional and I feel very sorry for all the drivers who had to drive that truly awful car.

The categories that I measured the 2010 cars in include:

Car Driveability, All Round Car Ability, Low Downforce Circuits, Medium Downforce Circuits, High Downforce Circuits, High Speed Circuits, Medium Speed Circuits and Low Speed Circuits.

The categories in order of strength for the F110 are:

1. Car Driveability(12th)

T2. Low Downforce Circuits(12th)

T2. High Speed Circuits(12th)

4. All Round Car Ability(12th)

5. High Downforce Circuits(12th)

6. Medium Downforce Circuits(12th)

7. Low Speed Circuits(12th)

8. Medium Speed Circuits(12th)

Looking at all the drivers that drove for HRT, Senna was the fastest, followed by Klien, Chandhok and Yamamoto, with all of them doing a solid job. Senna especially did a good solid job in extremely trying circumstances with a car that was way slower than every other car on the grid. Overall, an extremely bad season for such an unprofessional team. I feel it is going to be extremely tough for HRT to survive, let alone be successful in F1.


i remember Senna being more or less soundly beaten by everybody else who drove that car?


Again, you remember wrong. Senna was the only HRT driver to outqualify a Virgin on merit (at Turkey), was faster than Chandhok (by a second at some places, including Monaco), and was still beating Yamamoto despite the team turning it’s back on him so to speak.

If we exclude Bahrain for the obvious reasons (one car was barely running, the other not at all)… He was up 5-3 in qualifying. Not bad for a driver with the inferior car (heavier chassis, old fuel tank etc.)!?! To be a second quicker than your teammate at Monaco, such a difficult and short

Chandhok has this aura around him that makes everyone think he was great because he’s a nice guy… but he wasn’t any better than his GP2 record suggests.


no yeah you’re right, i had a look at the quali results for the year and it’s not what i remembered. How can he have been in a different car if the car had no development though?


“They were very unprofessional…”

Really? I thought they were just poor…


(oops, I hit the wrong key :-))

It’s funny how being so very unprofessional, and driving a car that was the 12th on the grid, they managed to finish 11th on Constructors’ championship. Any explanation?


They were also very poor, but this is caused by their unprofessional attitude to their jobs. They finish 11th in the Constructors Championship as Virgin have had reliability issues on the days where there has been high attritional races. Virgin should have finished 11th.


Yeah there is a possibility that Hispania will show up at Bahrain with a car that isn’t fast enough to qualify, then they’d have to do the whole F1 round the world circus, but never actually competing in the races. How long would a team bother in that situation?

I would love to see Chandok with a drive in the next few years. Seems like a really nice guy and although it was obviously hard to tell, looked to have some pace (at least relative to Senna)


Have you played F1 2010? Chandock’s pace on the game is incredible! he’d be driving for Red Bull full time if he could mange that kind of performance in real life!!


yeah mate, love that game. Just finished season 3, double world champion lol. Maybe the Hispania was holding him back more than we though, and maybe Codemasters know something we don’t!


No mention of the Williams’ bits for next year (sorry if the apostrophe is wrong)?


I hope HRT can pull something from the fire. It’s good to have underdogs in F1.



Can you confirm Geoff Willis has left the team? I’m sure I read he was leading the development of the 2011 car.

Many people have commented the HRT Dallara was an ok car, I think with some development the 2010 could actually make it through qualifying in 2011, at least at the beginning of the season. Some of the smaller teams have already confirmed they won’t be using KERS, with the removal of the double diffusers and F Ducts, the new cars could start the year slower than 2010 (discounting the impact of Pirelli)

It might not be over for HRT quite yet!


During mid-season i remember an interview with Senna talking about their “development”. Changing one screw for another one that weighted less, things like that, working mostly on the materials, using a pump for the fuel tank that applied more pressure, so they didn´t need so mucho extra fuel to be sure they didn´t run out of fuel, etc.

It was a totally new team, and simply the experience to get the set-up of the car more fine-tuned is an achievement for them.

For the rest i don´t have any other option than being in agreement with you doubting the need for a team like this in F1. Carabante keeps claiming a big company will partner with them for next season, but the announcement never comes, and after the mockery made with toyota one has to be very reluctant to whatever they tells



can you shed some light on Colin Kolles? He seems to be regarded in F1 and fan circles as not a “nice person”. But he also seems to me the ultimate survivor and a strong character. He managed to keep HRT (and previously Midland/Spiker) going against great adversity.

And he seems to have a lot of assets and a team highly capable of race car operation.

So what is it about him? Is it his personal management style that puts people off? Or is it circumstances under which he must operate?

He seems to be called upon when a team is facing downfall.

Or is he just misunderstood? I’m sure you know him better than most of us.


He managed to keep HRT (and previously Midland/Spiker) going against great adversity.

>> Collin Kolles is an enigma to me as well. He took Charge of Jordan F1 in 2005 from Trevor Carlin ( Guy with proper racing pedigree and experience of running open wheel racing teams) and in his first Press interaction, Collin bad mouthed Narain Karthikeyan, Driver who had good results in Non-F1 open wheel formulae for Trevor. For some reason or other performance of the Indian driver started falling off from that point onwards, not to mention there was no upgrades on that Jordan car (which I suspect was old spec car as well).

And then surprisingly after their fallout in F1, Collin approached the Indian driver to drive for his LeMans car and the Indian driver gave him decent results in his outings in the car including great qualifying position at LeMans ( a race he couldn’t drive due to shoulder injury)…

Looking at this past, I am sure Bruno and Karun have hope to be contacted by Collins to drive in LeMans maybe 🙂


I don’t know him that well to be honest. I’ve had dealings with him. He doesn’t give much away. He is a colourful character, a trained dentist and people who get to know him well say he’s quite misunderstood in F1 circles. But you know, it’s a very tough, political environment, especially at team principal level. He knows how to run a racing team, but without serious backing from the Spanish shareholders it’s hard to see what he can do here


Dentist? Makes sense, I can see him now!!

Funny character, I get the feeling he has his own agenda


Thanks for this!

So it must be his former profession that is off-putting. Many people have (irrational) fear of the dentist … 😉


I would like to believe that they can show up at the first race, but I’m affraid they will not.

After Villalonga joined the Company, lots of money were expected to arrive, but it was some two months ago, and there is no clue of new sponsors or partners.

More “good” news for Mr Carabante: he lost an arbitration procedure in Madrid, and has been sentenced to pay €35M.


Not sure this will interfere with his F1 adventure, but I would bet it will…


I’ll be sorry to see them go, but honestly I don’t see them being on the grid next year. They might limp through this season.


The improvement in HRT’s performance could be down to race engineering, as Virgin had the pre-season testing and possibly greater experience with its Manor race team to make things work quickly. Mercedes made improvements well after it stopped development too, just by understanding the car better.

Will anybody else give Senna a second chance? I presume he won’t be driving for HRT next year. On performance he seems to be behind other hopefulls, and it is not clear that he can buy a drive even with his name. Chandok’s reputation appears to have survived in better shape, at least from distance of Australia.


James what is your analysis of the four drivers the team has piloted through the season in terms of each other and the rest of the grid?


Interesting point Nilesh, I’d like to read that too.


so would I, and what is it about Karun Chandhok that everyone likes?

I think he is a fantastic guy and brilliant for the sport, good driver – is it because he is famed for how he handled his first outing for the team? He’s only driving a few races yet he get such high praise.

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to him him with Crofty on the Red Button…. really nice guy


I think they should just go away. They don’t seem to have any potential to get better. Might want to reconsider the idea of being backed because they are team Spain too – anyone remember A1GP???


When is the Ferrari review coming ? 13th of March ?


You aren’t beating about the bush Vlad, are you?

I am waiting for Ferrari too. It is the second most interesting to the Renault one, to me at least.

James, do not leave a stone unturned, will you please?


I guessed some days ago that Ferrari review will come the last one… and I keep my bet.

So we will have enough controversy to survive until the pre season tests starting as of 1st February 😀


Well we started 12 reviews for the 12 days of Christmas, there are two teams to go so have a guess..


Wow, as always I appreciate James’ summaries on this website, and here in particular I’m especially grateful – for succinctly summing up a long and puzzling sequence of events for this struggling lowly team! Much Becomes Clear now! Thanks James.

As a middle-of-the-road F1 follower I try to stay ‘neutral’ in my opinion of the teams, and while appreciating the views of those higher-ups who don’t like the lesser teams getting in their way, I still appreciate the small new teams’ efforts to try to get invoved and take part, so I have sympathy for them. We have to appreciate the fact they HAVE managed to get involved despite the world-wide recession, AND they survived to the end of the year: some new teams have failed before the end in the past.

On a separate issue I hope this entry gets through, as I had problems last year. And I agree with others who have expressed the opinion these ‘out of season’ features certainly help fuel our ongoing interest in F1. Thanks James for your work.


PS I forgot to ask: I notice the teams’ end-of-season ‘money’/rewards are seldom talked about on here, though I do recall requests to James to clarify what percentages of money is allocated to each of the teams at the end of the year, but I haven’t noticed a clear response. So, what percentage slices of the rewards pie DO the 12 teams get, and especially the lowest teams – what do they get, if anything at all? It seems a shame if some get zero despite their best well-intentioned efforts. Thanks


Hispania to me, seemed to be a lackluster team before the start of 2010.

However, the team did one thing that fellow ‘team’ USF1 didn’t! They made it to the first race, and became increasingly reliable as the season went on. They also had a fuel tank big enough to finish a GP, which Virgin didn’t at one point.

No testing or cash, really ruled them out as top contenders, but to their credit, they finished ahead of Virgin in the Title race, and survived to the end of the season, which previous teams such as Arrows and Super Aguri didn’t do.

They managed to get 25 finishes from both the cars at the end of the year, which is more than Lotus, Virgin and Sauber.

However, the constant change in driver rota, was at some points confusing, as I didn’t know which driver would be racing at the next race. Shame the dropped Chandhok, he was doing a decent job.

To be fair, the drivers did a good job, in what really was a dog of a car. Thumbs up from me.

I just hope they have the funds to both: Make it to the tests, and survive 2011.

Best wishes from me, things can only get better right?


While you are correct about them finishing the season, I think comparing that feat to Arrows and Super Aguri is a tad wrong, after all, Arrows had 24 full seasons in F1, while Super Aguri bowed out in their 3rd


I see where your coming from. I would have compared them to the likes of Life and Andrea Moda, but I was just using more modern examples of teams.


Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah (this one deserves 4 yeahs), the question is why Carabante is not using his F1 team to promote his businesses? There’s a vague brochure dedicated to his life on the HRT website but it’s nothing like Fernandes’s Lotus (as opposed to LRGP) when the cars are all covered with stickers relating to his companies, etc., – so in the case of HRT why bother with such a massive investment if the team is not looking particularly attractive to potential buyers? Reminds me of Midland aka MF1…

I kinda like HRT’s press officers – charming ladies who got me an autograph from Senna; the car looked pretty too (despite being slow). Hope the team can develop into something decent. For Cosworth it was probably worth having a customer like HRT – more feedback, etc., HRT basically treated every Grand Prix weekend as a testing session, what else could they do, aye?


Let me answer your question with another one: after the year HRT had, would your opinion of Mr. Carabantes’ businesses have improved or worsened? And would the return from that “free” advertising have exceeded the income from third parties? If not, Mr. Carabantes is stuck with a bad ad purcase plus no outside help for operating costs.

Of course (and this is perhaps a separate discussion) by not advertising your own business you’re basically shouting to all prospective advertisers that you’re not a good buy.

Hence, barring a highly-unlikely, out-of-the-blue-and-into-the-points scorcher of a car in 2011, I have to agree there is no future for HRT. No engineering plan, no driving plan, no business plan.


Maybe Carabante is doing something in the Spanish media to promote his companies via HRT – no idea as I’m based on the other side of the border in Portugal.

Recently a couple of Spanish newspapers joked about HRT being rescued by Santander or something like that. It was their version of April Fool’s day in Spain…

Definitely in Spain F1 is known as “F Alonso (+ whatever team he’s driving for)” as his pensive face is staring at you everywhere and Santander-branded reproductions of Ferrari tractors (using Prost’s words) are featured in all possible places. HRT is probably not very popular with Spanish F1 fans because I failed to notice anything dedicated to the team or its drivers while in Valencia during the GP weekend. I think Spaniards relate to F1 in the following order: 1. Alonso 2. Alonso’s current team/colours 3. de la Rosa 4. Gené 5. Logically it would’ve been the right place for HRT but I will exclude it from the list.

One funny moment came at Ferrari exhibition in Valencia where they had a replica of an F1 podium and figures of Alonso and Massa standing there while you could join them on the 3rd step. Politically correct organizers placed Alonso on the top step of the podium while Massa was P2, I think they used pics from the Bahrain 2010 podium, I laughed my massa off! HRT is definitely not Spanish and future is not very bright for the team.


Being a Spaniard and having some Spaniard friends, I think that Jaime should be #2 on your list. He is very popular: extremely young, not a bad driver (actually I think he’s quite fast), he is also known as a DJ. I think the list could be more like:

#1 Fernando and his current team, whatever it is at a given moment;

#2 Jaime;

#3 Pedro de la Rosa;

#4 Ferrari, if Alonso is not driving for them (in he is, please refer for #1);

#5 HRT, far below the first four.

Marc Gené is more known for his role in LaSexta TV commenting the races than as a test driver. Remember he’s not driven a race since Silverstone 2004.

I think that Mr Carabante and his brands are perfectly unknown by Spanish fans, as you say. It’s similar to when Marc was driving the Minardis in 1999, or when Pedro de la Rosa was Eddie Irvine’s team mate at Jaguar (2000 – 2001) No one seemed to care about such unsuccesful teams. May I add that Fernando was not especially popular during his first years (2001 – 2003), until his first podiums in 2004.

So I’m absolutely skeptical about the future that awaits for HRT… 🙁


Forgot to mention Alguersuari there, he’s definitely Nº5 on the list instead of HRT. I call him good old “Shuari” as he announced himself to the world during that famous press conference in Hungary on his debut. I see Jaime (or “Jamie” as many British fans like to refer to the man) winning a couple of Le Mans 24 hour races in the future, maybe becoming the next Tom Kristensen.

Even Shuari is a bigger brand that Hispania…


HRT have no chance. No established driver (such as de la Rosa) will go there because it’s effectively an admission that his career is over. No aspiring drivers will go there because they can see what happened to those who suffered in 2010.


It was a consumate shame the Senna name did not live up to expectations. I think it was clear a long time ago that Bruno might not be up to it. The top teams know much more than we do and he was not picked up by any one like Mclaren. He simply left his run too late in motor racing. Growing up in the sport from the age of five or ten is a massive advantage and I think the fact that he did not kill Karun who’s record is abysmal was merely confirmed when Klien pasted him. Yamamoto was not going any where any way.

The one thing I am amazed by is such a team even got a look at F1. My last mortgage advisor put me through the ringer more than Mosley did due dilligence on that team.

New entries last year should have had cleared funds only in the bank to avoid such embarasment.

I say R.I.P to the lot, drivers and team.

Hey at least I am talking about the right team this time James…

This is Ferrari right :<)

When you interview Ferrari in a few weeks ask Luca why he is such a MUPPET.


I have to disagree with you about Senna. At the end of 2008, Honda organised a shoot out, to see who would take the second seat alongside Button. Senna was involved, and set some stunning times in the 2008 Honda, only a couple of tenths from Button, and quite a bit faster than Barrichello, who also tested. However, Ross Brawn decided he needed the experience of Rubens when he took over the team.

Bruno was kept back from racing because his mother didn’t want what happened to his uncle to happen to him. Who could really blame her? When he did start to race, he started to show he has some ability. It will be a shame to not see how well he could do in a car that actually challenge for points, if not wins.


De la Rosa would not be accepted by the Team, as he could not bring some strong sponsors with him.

As Carabante said recently on Spanish media, they are only looking for pay drivers.


That’s why they have no chance, because why would a pay driver (or rather those who are paying for him) choose HRT after seeing what happened last season? 2011 can only be worse. Geoff Willis has gone and all links with Dallara, whose car wasn’t that bad really if it had been developed properly like all the other cars, long since disappeared.

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