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What is Hispania’s place in Formula 1?
What is Hispania’s place in Formula 1?
Posted By: James Allen  |  31 Mar 2011   |  2:30 pm GMT  |  148 comments

At last weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, Hispania Racing’s Narain Kartikeyan and Tonio Liuzzi became the first drivers to not qualify for a Formula 1 Grand Prix for almost a decade. There’s no shame in that; Niki Lauda and Nelson Piquet once failed to qualify for a race, in the days when there were far more teams than places on the grid.

Having failed in its attempt to buy the Toyota cars, the team decided to build its own car very late. It failed to turn a wheel in pre season testing and was still being built when practice began on Friday. Despite turning 11 laps each in qualifying, both drivers failed to make the cut under the new 107% rule and the stewards rightly denied them a place on the grid.

They travel to Malaysia for next weekend’s race, with hopes of making it through to Sunday. But what should we make of this team – which echoes the weekend warriors of the early 1990s, like Andrea Moda and Forti – at a time of unprecedented competence in the rest of the grid? And what of the claims from some, inside and outside the team, that once they fit the correct front wing the car will be faster than Virgin?

I spoke to Hispania’s Geoff Willis on Sunday morning at length. He has been around; was part of Adrian Newey’s team at Williams in the glory days, was in charge at BAR in their heyday and played a role in building Red Bull up to where they are now. He knows what he’s doing, in other words.

Clearly he finds himself now in less than ideal circumstances and is putting a brave face on it, but listening to him talk, you realise that he believes in what he’s doing and that he’s looking forward to shocking a few in the paddock who think Hispania shouldn’t be there.

The construction of the car was outsourced to Italian composites firms which Willis has confidence in. However the front wing failed a crash test and so the car ran in Melbourne with last year’s front wing, which the aero package was not designed for. All being well the revised wing will pass its test in the coming days and Hispania will be able to do some set up work in the four hours of practice in Sepang.

And when it does Willis believes that it will push Virgin to the back of the grid. Already Virgin’s Timo Glock – who looked a haunted man on the Sunday night plane to Kuala Lumpur – has expressed concern that the car is miles off and that a fast Red Bull lap in Q1 could push them out of the race. But to be beaten by a car which has had hardly any running would be very painful indeed for Nick Wirth’s engineers.

The problem at Hispania, clearly, is money. The owner, Jose Carabante, is still learning how F1 works, especially its cash demands. I worked for someone like that at Brabham in the early 1990s, who had underestimated how much an F1 team cost to run. Back then it was £1 million a month. Now it’s a minimum of four times that.

Carabante said on Spanish radio that the team would have €45 million budget this season and promised a “new aerodynamic package” for the Spanish Grand Prix. “It will be enough to be ahead of Lotus and Virgin,” he said. “Last year we were in a worse condition than now and we ended up ahead of Virgin with twice our budget, and behind Lotus due only to one accident.”

Lotus has taken a big step forward on performance and is now closer to Force India on pace, but Virgin is vulnerable and the whole digital design philosophy is coming under question.

“Like last year, we began the development of the car too late due to the budget,” Carabante added. “We were closing [sponsor] agreements that in the end did not come.”

After the deal to buy the assets of the Toyota team fell through, “We set a realistic goal with the budget that we had.”

I’m told that in raising finance to get to that point, Hispania turned to Convers Sport Group, owned by a Lithuanian called Vladimir Antonov, who has been in the background of F1 for a couple of years now. He owns Spyker, is trying to buy Saab and was a sponsor on the Renault car last year, with his Snoras Bank, which appeared on the sidepods. I’ve been told that Antonov has a charge over the team in the event of them not repaying the money, but that has not been confirmed. He is sitting on a significant amount of money – he claims to have $7 billion of assets under management – and may soon have a stake in a great brand in Saab. He seems to be watching and waiting.

Kartikeyan told Reuters at the weekend that he to believes Hispania is set to surprise, “if we get the new front wing. Basically, they don’t want jokers to come in. We respect the 107 percent rule. We are a serious team. When it all gets kicking off, I think we are going to surprise a few people,”

However Liuzzi thinks that qualifying at Sepang is a big ask, “I think things will be different there but, unfortunately, if I was to say at the beginning of the year which track would be worst for the 107% rule I would have said Malaysia because of its characteristics. Even so, I still think we can show improvement compared to Australia and good pace compared to Virgin.”

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Reading the comments saying that if a team does not do any testing pre-season, it should not race. It is a fair comment by others however, that teams turn up to races with different cars to those run in testing (see McLaren!).

However, I do believe there should be a rule stating that, unless the weather conditions prevent it, teams should complete a minimum number of laps in FP1 and FP2, and a minimum number of laps in FP3. This means that a car can go into qualifying safely, the driver knowing the limits, the handling, and have some basic set up.


HRT should be allowed in F1 provided their car passes the regulations and they can qualify under the 107% rule. They clearly need some more time testing and the rules should allow the smaller teams some exception for the limitations on testing, as a Grand Prix weekend is not the place for a test session.

All F1 teams have to start somewhere. It should be remembered that Williams were very underfunded in the 1970s and only became a front runner when the Saudi money arrived in 1978.


Quite, Ferrari and Mclaren didn’t start out as instant dynasties either. A week or so ago Adrian Newey commented on a job offer to work for Ferrari by saying ‘Formula One is about people.” And he is dead on right, money is certainly the mother’s milk of all sports but the sort of people you gather into a team is what makes all the difference. Its about the desire to compete and excel, if you want a sound financial investment, if you’re averse to risks then this isn’t the place to look for a job or to spend your money.

Markin Brundell

I see no reason why HRT should be kicked that hard. Firstly, they followed all necessary procedures to get in, just like the other 12 teams, so they have earned their place.

Their problems seem to be money related. The other trouble for the team is 107 percent rule.

The 107 percent rule is a very convenient one, but not a good solution. If flag marshalls are not up to their job and fail to wave blue or white, is it HRT-s problem? Alright, in case their drivers fail to give way, maybe there should be harder penalties for that. Im quite sure that(f.ex) 2 year race ban for blocking would be enough to make backmarkers interested in letting the leaders through. Nowadays with asphalt run offs it should be easy to do.

I think 107 percent rule should be dropped. My logic is, that the more cars on track, the higher possibility to see some action. With limited testing, participating races is the only way to run your car. Sending teams home early after costly(!) shipping is unreasonable.

Many people love to say that their cars are too dangerous, because they are slow. Well…

Thinking about last years Hungaroring 1000km sportscar race. Fastest LMP1 qualified roughly in 1min 33s, while 911-s were doing around 1.47. That is a massive difference, far more than 7 percent. And believe it or not, the race was not a disaster. If F1 is so pinnacle of pinnacles, drivers should be able to get around slower cars there too.


For one thing, sportscars are accustomed to getting cars at a combination of speeds round a track without it all ending up in a big sticky mess (overtaking not largely depending on aero or gimmicks is a significant factor). For another, there’s a 111.1% rule on race speed – a team missing the 107% mark in (optimally-tuned) qualifying would be at considerable risk of missing the race mark unless the qualifying time was a fluke bad result.

The problem isn’t blue or white flags but the risk of potentially-dangerous accidents and unfair removal of faster competitors through F1 being incompatible with tolerance of deficient speed.


At this point HRT does indeed have a place in Formula One, the question is can they keep it? Every motor sporting series has an underdog of sorts. Why should F-1 be any different? It makes for a good “B” story to go along with DRS, Bahrain, and whatever Bernie has said this week. I’m not a fan of HRT at this point but I wish them well. The herculean effort they made to create the F111 shows that they’re serious about this business. I too think that Virgin might be in big trouble as well toward the middle of the season as the top teams get quicker and the best of the rest chase after them, the 107 percent rule is a moving target. Virgin hasn’t done much development and it will probably show soon.

That being said, if they are struggling it is because Max Mosley their key defender is gone and their chief critic still in charge; I do feel for these teams who are openly criticized by the likes of Bernie Ecclestone.

Good luck to them and I think their efforts are in the best tradition of the sport.


Anyone that saw the HRT’s (well, Liuzzi’s HRT) on track at 1st qualifying would have been impressed. The car sounded good, looked good straight away and the times reflected that relative to the situation. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Liuzzi, a green Lotus and the best of Force India engaged in serious arguments over track posiion within the next few GP’s.



I never received actually your book in Tunisia. I even went to the post office in January and last week and did received nothing.

Is there any issues with mail to Tunisia


No idea. It was one of many sent out, I imagine. Did you order it via the site?


Actually I won as I was among the ones with most comments. You contacted me by email and I gave you my mail adress


Hispania were promised a budget cap rule for all teams of $40m (or somewhere around that figure).

That simply is not going to happen now, just Bernie’s ‘Medals for the top 3 drivers and the most gold medals win the championship’ idea, along with the ‘fake rain’ idea are dead and not going to happen.

The only way things will change and get better for these smaller teams, is by banning wings and introducing mechanical grip only, so it will simply come down to engine performance and grip.

That’s a bit drastic for me, and I love the old F1 cars from the 50’s and 60’s, but we should not go back to that. 107% rule is there and is doing it’s job, so lay off Hispania, if they start they start, if they DNQ then they DNQ.


Interesting forum!

My own view is that Hispania are constained in three keys area:

1) Late confirmation of any budget meant the team could not start work on a new car until late December.

2) Lack of a good budget

3) FIA new no testing rule in season means they are now doing the basic testing at races…something that until 2009 did not affect all previous new teams, such as Andrea Moda, Super Aguri etc.

I wish the team success and hope they can hang on. Colin Kolles is a tough nut, a fighter and has allowed Geoff Willis to form a team which has good F1 experience. (Inc, Toni Chequerella, Ex Kubica Renault race engineer and Richard Connell, ex Sato engineer at Super Aguri and Renault test engineer)

With a bit of luck, a reasonable budget and a lot of hard work (which the team is not shy of) and the ability of Luizzi, maybe then can proove themselves more capable than the many doubters believe?


First of all, I would like to thank James Allen for a fantastic broadcast from Melbourne last weekend. I watched One HD continuously the whole weekend and I have never seen such fantastic dedication to the sport in Australia. Thouroughly enjoyed it.

As for HRT. I believe they definately have a place in F1. I think it is easy to forget how hard it is to even enter F1 let alone succeed. Compare HRT to teams like Pacific or MasterCard Lola and you will soon see that HRT are far from a joke. I was very suprised that HRT were able to do the times they did considering they had almost no running prior to qualifying. We know the car is quick in a straight line as it lacks downforce, so I expect it to qualify for the faster circuits. Malaysia will hopefully be one of them.

I hope they find some sponsors and that the dedicated workers finally get the respect they deserve.


Thanks for that.


Without cars participating in each race the money will soon dry up. I can’t see the attraction for sponsors if the weekend finishes on Saturday.

No offence to Niki Lauda and Nelson Piquet but what kind of driver wants to be languishing at the back of the grid. Hardly looks good on a CV.


Why all the Virgin hate?

They’re not even particularly close to the Virgin brand anymore, they’re now mostly owned by Malrussia. They are a sport car manufacturer so actually it could be said that Virgin are bringing manufacturers back in F1 😉

and yes, the CFD is probably a bad idea. But Wirth thought it could work, and it worked with sports cars so why not give F1 a chance. At least they are developing technology which might have another practical use – say for modelling complex systems like the human body – and that’s one reason why F1 is still around…


People talk about some cars being harder on tyres than other cars. I can understand some drivers being harder on their tyres than others, but what makes one car intrinsically harder on its tyres than another? Or does it all boil down to how the driver chooses to use the available performance of the car?


Firstly, the fundamentals of a car’s characteristics dictate the way the driver has to drive the car. The driver will always try to become part of or at one with the car whatever its tendancies may be. Read about Alonso and his champ Renaults as an example of this.

Generally speaking, a car that has lots of downforce has lots of grip. Lots of grip means you slide less in breaking zones, corners and traction zones. This means you have lower wear rate as its the lateral scrubbing accross the track and spinning up on the exit of corners that really kills the tyres. So, a car that has poor grip will wear its tyres out quicker than a car that has good grip.

Paradoxically this can go too far the other way in that if a car produces more downforce than the tyres were designed to withstand over a stint, the tyre longevity will suffer too. It’s a very deep balancing act to get right.

I think Red Bull have possibly gone too far in this respect this year so it will be interesting to see how for they can go on the softs at one of the more abrasive tracks such as Barcelona. I know they were fine in testing but it’ll be a different story in the warmer temperatures by race day.


I really hope that they get some useful running and hit the set up sweet spot quickly with their car in Malaysia. It looks like a very neatly realised design front to back and something that gives me confidence that it will at least be able to qualify is Geoff Willis’ involvement. Remember the BAR of 2004 anyone? It won the non-Ferrari WDC and WCC.

I’d hate to see the HRT fall away without seeing what the car can do. I always wished that Sergio Rinland’s twin keeled Arrows A23 had the money behind it to see what it could do. It’s one of the great shames of modern formula one when a car is still born or money clips its wings before it can fly. The A23 was still excellent years later when painted white and red and called a Super Aguri. OK, it was ageing by then and had pretended to be a Minardi in the meantime, but a few flick ups and wing refinements here and there courtesy of Honda meant it still qualified and punched above its weight regularly until once again money called time on it once and for all. Such a shameful waste! You wouldn’t breed a thoroughbred stallion and never let it out of the stable.

It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the HRT immediately started to show a clean pair of heels to Virgin. The Virgin looks primitive by comparison. I get the impression from looking at it that the CFD technology they employ can’t simulate the more complex airflow that it is created by more intricate designs so the output ends up being basic. The car is just a reflection of where the technology is at. They have gone backwards from last year it seems. I know the other teams use CFD too but I bet the stage Virgin is at now with its car is where the big teams are 3 months into the design phase. The CFD Model will then become a scale model and move into the wind tunnel to be sculpted and tweaked to produce prodigious amounts of negative lift.

I say lets have a rallying cry for the struggling team. Since when is hard graft embarrassing anyway? They are behind schedule and have faced some difficulties but they have shown their metal by getting to Melbourne and taking the DNQ on the chin. If they qualify in Malaysia I think all you naysayers should promptly rush out to buy a tweed trilby and eat it!

David Turnedge

Sure the team deserves its place on the grid!

It has an entry, it has a car and it has a dedicated crew; all it doesn’t have is a fast enough car, presumably because it was running a 2010 spec nose.

Slow? Who cares? That’s why the FIA wisely reintroduced the 107% rule.

The only question that remains for me is why the FIA allowed small teams like Hispania and USF1 into Formula 1 while turning down outfits like Prodrive.


To be fair, Lotus, Virgin and HRT are actually “new” teams, and have no basis or experience. The other kind of “new” teams like Brawn GP were not really new teams but experienced teams that went through a management change.


Forti. Here is a name I completely forgot that used to race in F1.

They made Minardi look fast in comparaison. Aahhh… the old days!

Geoff Willis is a competent guy and I anticipate HRT to shine compared to Marussia Virgin who are the biggest disappointment of this season’s opener. (Even bigger than Webbo and Ferrari respective performances!)

I feel Liuzzi should be able to get in front of both Virgin cars if HRT’s front wing passes the crash test. I’m really not sure about this CFD only technic.

A big question mark remains as to Karthikeyan’s ability though. Maybe a seat for Timo mid-season?


I miss Minardi, whether it was run by Giancarlo Minardi or Paul Stoddart, they seem to be the most honest and friendly guys around.


God i miss the old days! I remember reading a story about one of the Minardi drivers (Fabrizio Barbazza, pardon the spelling) sitting at the side of the track in Montreal with a couple of fishing rods catching big carp between sessions. lol. Way more interesting than attending sponsors meetings and drinking protein drinks.


I remember that terrible colour car. Wasn’t it roberto Moreno and pedro diniz?


Indeed, a very ugly yellow.

I only remember Luca Badoer taking part in the 1996 Monaco grand prix in which my favourite drivers at the time (Jean Alesi and Damon Hill) both retired from the lead.


Diniz joined the team cause of his sponsorship connection. Something like a pay driver.


It must be irritating being a Spanish F1 supporter right now.

Hispania may not be able to compete at all.

Alonso is driving a car with a big Italian flag on the back.

Lewis Hamilton is the only driver currently showing the form to compete with Vettel for the championship.



I hope you’re happy to eat your words if you turn out to be wrong about HRT.

I’m not an F1 insider, but I find it difficult to believe all this talk about HRT being faster Virgin and maybe Lotus. We haven’t seen anything from HRT this year, no preseason testing, no real running in Melbourne. All we’ve got is to take peoples word on the pace of the car. What evidence is there to suggest that it isn’t just another dogs breakfast? What evidence is there to suggest it can outpace Lotus? Why are we taking what HRT people (and Virgin and Lotus) are saying as a given? It just doesn’t seem very empirical.

It’s clear from Melbourne than Lotus is a bit of a ways off from Force India. To catch up, the need to develop rapidly and Force India to stand still. I can’t see that happening. I would also imagine that is the same case for the next downs, Virgin and then HRT. That is, for the lower team to catch up, the higher team standing still in development.

You’re a good egg James, you’re usually spot on and I have never had any reason not to take what you write as true, but I must admit, this time I’m sceptical about your thoughts on HRT.


P1 Malaysia. Virgin 2.7secs in front of HRT…


I didn’t say that they would be faster, I said that there are plenty of people in the paddock who think they will and that having spoken to Geoff and seen the car, I’ll be very interested to see if it is the case. Hence the question in the title.


Indeed! In the egg cup full of laps Liuzzi did they weren’t a million light years away from Virgin and you have to admit he looked like he was taking it very easy. Out of the box with no set up work they were within grabbing distance of the Virgins,lets wait and see hey?


I don’t have a problem with HRT been in F1.

They have managed to build there own car which meets all of the FIA regulations so should be allowed to come & try & make the show.


my issue with the 3 “new” teams is that they completely ruin the Q1 session of qualifying. it is a forgone conclusion that all 6 will be relegated, leaving us to wonder only about that final 17th position. hardly seems worth it. in fact, in 20 races, only twice has a “new” team made it into Q2: sepang and spa. and both of those were wet sessions…


Virgin has no soul (for a virgin outfit), I hope they kill them.


The article doesn’t answer the initial question, but it does give useful info explaining HRT’s current drawback and, especially, it’s supposed potential. in my opinion, Moseley’s rushed attempt to open up F1 to new candidates resulted in having one very slow and two very very slow teams, stretching finances to such an extent that one could question their short term future in F1. The USF1 team didn’t even have a car but were given a slot and then it went from bad to worse making F1 look like a joke with incompetent managers on both sides: FIA & teams. I don’t blame L, V and HRT to seize the opportunity, I blame the FIA. But now what is HRT’s place in F1? A couple of decades ago, small set ups on the limit of bankruptcy were part of the evolution of F1, but the corporate edge F1 has given itself, the financial stakes involved and the global brand it has become, hardly leaves room for what looks like sudden amateurish involvement by the three new teams. Lotus isn’t even Lotus, Branson goes from lucky sponsor to new team and HRT are where they are. Lots over over promise by these teams, nothing delivered in F1 terms. So my conclusion is, despite respecting the team’s courage and motivation, HRT should not be on the grid. That they should have had enough time to get ready to be in F1 and not improvise as they go along. Nothing works under that much strain.


Teams that don’t make the 107% cut-off should be granted additional test days I reckon.

(I can already anticipate the arguments against this, it just seems harsh that the sport is happy for them to fail, despite their best efforts.)


My view is that there should be place in F1 for any team that can produce and run a car that meets the specifications of the formula. The thing that is wrong is that new teams cannot properly compete with the big spending teams because of a number of factors. Despite declarations of policies to drive down costs with initiatives such as restricting testing, bizarre and expensive changes keep getting introduced. This year we have KERS back, a moveable rear wing gizmo and tyres designed to wear out quickly. Total madness!

Peter, New Zealand

I don’t believe Lotus has gone forward so much as Force India has gone backwards.


I don’t think any team could really plumb the same lows as Andrea Moda (who I believe are still the only team to be permanently banned from Formula One for “bringing the sport into disrepute”, but please correct me if I’m wrong). It may just be my sympathy for underdogs kicking in, but I do think both Hispania and Virgin have a decent chance of surviving and eventually developing into credible outfits. Hispania’s start was frankly disastrous but as former designer Gary Anderson has said the car has potential for development, while Nick Wirth has been in motor racing long enough to make the necessary improvements. CFD is still a relatively new technology and they are no doubt feeling the effects of the problems that brings, but you only need look at how much Renault spent on upgrading its CFD facility a few years back to recognise the potential teams see within it and ultimately I think it will replace windtunnels as the main aerodynamic tool. Both teams have already achieved considerably more than a lot of other would-be constructors in a very difficult financial climate, and if they can still manage to survive the so-called “piranha club” in such times I’d say they deserve a break. Whether they’ll get one is of course another matter entirely…


I am really sorry for how Timo Glock’s career is being curtailed. He was a fine driver and could contribute healthily to a midfield team.


with so many Germans on the grid, he’ll find it hard to find somewhere else to settle in.


I feel sorry for HRT. These teams bought into Mosley’s vision of a cheaper budget F1 which we are yet to see.


Good point!

Imagine RBR or Ferrari operate on 45m euros.


The 107% is not what it used to be as the top guys aren’t delivering all they have in Q1 with the worse tyre being used.

I wonder if Virgin would have qualified has RedBull used the softs even without pushing 100%


I was thinking the same thing. If Bridgestones tyres are still in f1 I doubt both HRT and Hispania could qualify.


Correction, Virgin


I love HRT – and am fascinated by what’s happening at the back of the grid. Thanks for posting about it.

The HRT certainly looks more sophisticated than the Virgin. I’m no engineer, but in a sport that’s all about aero, you could tell the Virgin would be slow just by looking at it.


Hi James,

I thought Vladimir Antonov had to sell his stake in Spyker before the deal wiht GM for taking over Saab was done?


He did, but in February one of his companies took control of Spyker’s supercar business, according to the FT


Thanks for the answer James,

I thought he just bought te supercar part of Spyker and that Saab and Spyker would be spit into 2 separate compagnie’s again.


It’s not like Virgin is the only brilliant team that has thought of using CFD. All the others are doing it as well, but not relying on in entirely. CFD and stress simulations are accurate only when working in “linear regions” of the equations that are used inside the software. If you want to model material properties closer to the point of fracture or do aero simulations where there’s turbulence, the standard models are worthless. I bet all the other teams are doing a much better job at using CFD to their advantage, precisely because they’re not relying on it entirely, and they can use the data from wind tunnel tests to improve their models. If Virgin want to continue along this path, they don’t need engineers, they need mathematicians and programmers.


I think the folks at ANSYS and Abaqus (amongst others) would be a bit surprised to hear about your views on non linear analysis accuracy… “garbage in, garbage out” is generally the problem.


I don’t see how any sport that involves such high speeds can let teams on a track without them meeting some form of minimum amount of testing mileage.

F1’s lifeblood is money. Always has been, always will. If you don’t have money, then you won’t go racing.


I think its actually time to give them a break. Until qualifying in Australia I was all for getting them out of the sport as they dont do it or themselves any favours. However after the qualifying effort I was a little heartened. If you think back to the first test with new cars the teams during the first shakedown sessions (which Q1 was for HRT) the teams where around 6 seconds slower, now after only 11 laps the HRT in Liuzzi`s hands was only 1.7 seconds of Qulifying. so presumably with no reliability issues and time to work on setup (and actually use the front wing that the aero work was designed around) they should be a lot closer


I think the whole issue with HRT is a joke and is damaging to F1.

To not test is one thing, but to not go out until fist Qualifying (for the second year running) is a joke. At least Virgin turn up for testing etc

HRT should move on


Agreed. I like underdogs such as Minardi and even Super Aguri but there needs to be a rule or a suggestion that even tiny teams must attend the testing sessions.

So far HRT are just sitting at home and waiting until the TV cameras turn on.

They are a Spanish team aren’t they? If they can afford to fly all their gear to Australia and Malasia surely they can afford to truck their 2010 car down the road to Barcelona to turn a few laps.


I think there was some construction of the car in Germany.

Michael Grievson

i wish them well but I can’t help but think they’re worse off having Karthykain (spelling) on the team.


i think people tend to underestimate karthikeyan based on what is seen as a poor 2005.

his 2005 run at jordan actually started off good, he was outperforming his team mate and was getting praise from martin brundle on the itv commentary.

i remember narain running as high as 6th at spa and battling with villeneuve and massa in the 2 saubers only to suffer a bad pit stop and end up outside the points.

he also jumped into an a1go car and won races and also won some races in superleague formula so hes clearly got speed and talent.

i expect him to start pushing liuzzi very hard as the season goes on.


All the new teams are finding it tough in their second year already like so many before them. Lotus claimed that they would be right up with Toro Rosso and Force India yet still need to find a second, Virgin are standing still while Hispania are simply making up the numbers. I felt last year that the best these teams could do was show improvement and enough pace to at least keep the gap to the top teams at similar level from the start of the year to the end. But they do not simply seem to be able to do that. Surival is great but not what formula 1 is about. Poor Clock.


The thing about Hispania is they never really had a clear cut reason to be on the grid or a well defined exit strategy, given Jose Carabante was only persuaded by Bernie to take over Campos and guarantee F1 would not lose another new team (after USF1). I suppose it’s just a case of getting their priorities straight, of whether they’re really in F1 for the long haul or not(?).

Given the crossroads HRT may be facing, I’m perhaps less sympathetic to Virgin Racing should the former end up being ahead of them. They may not be owned by Richard Branson, but the man runs one of the largest aviation/media/mobile companies in the world; surely he has more money to spare that could make his team more competitive. I agree with Bernie when he somewhat took shot at Branson earlier in the year for using F1’s prestige and global reach to promote his brand but rarely give anything back in return.



Did you get any information about why they were in such a disarray building the 2 cars last weekend?

I figure they end up caught up with Bernie’s logistics – and in having to pack up a part-built car in time to get it shipped on the F1M flights.


the rumours basically said that the parts required to build the cars where arriving sporadically when the suppliers where paid.


Max (*** *******) Mosley has a lot to answer for!

F1 is the pinnacle of motor sport and only those that can afford it should be allowed to compete it is plain crazy for a team to go into first practice as they did, if there had been an accident the FIA would have been to blame for allowing them to be on track against the other teams.

All this budget cap and all no testing is rubbish and takes away of what F1 should be.

AS for Virgin, in my view a type Branson adventure (it may surprise many to learn that not all he touches turns to gold).


Mosley didn’t get what he wanted, the teams did and this is the result of it. You are blaming the wrong person.

If Mosley had gotten his way Honda and Toyota and BMW would still be in F1.


I don’t agree on the Honda, Toyota and BMW point. The japs left because of the automotive crisis coupled with lack of success in F1, the former being the stronger incentive.

BMW was always on its toes in F1 with Theissen worryingly fearing every new board meeting. It has never been like the Mercedes involvement with strong involvement all the way. Mercedes had strong incentives to move out with lack of success after Ferrari domination backed by the spying scandal and finally the global automotive and economic crisis and yet Mercedes kept involved.

Ir has nothing to do with Mosley because manufacturers are unreliable generally and F1 has to rely mainly on FERRARI and then what Enzo used to call garagisti. As for the other manufacturers they can be grouped in 3 categories

The commited : Mercedes

The faithful : they live for a few years but always come back : Renault and Honda

The opportunists : Toyota who came to F1 because there wasn’t enough space in the banks to put their money in.

and BMW which engaged in a racer’s competition with corporative heavy decision making.

and many others (Porsche, Lamborghini, Alfa, Peugeot)

Ferrari doesn’t belong to any category because Ferrari is F1.


You both are wrong. The reason they left is because it became to expensive to maintain the teams. No conspiracies involved.

Mosley wanted to cut the costs to make sure teams could stay in.

The teams got what they wanted, and the cap was suspended, and here the result we see now with HRT, Virgin with a very low bugdte trying to get withing 4 seconds of the grid instead of BMW, Toyota, Honda going for the points.

Enjoyable isn’t it?

No matter how much Mosley is hated, he had a very good point in this, any rational thinking person would give him that.


And of course McLaren who are to me just as important to todays F1 as Ferrari – both are great teams. I hate seeing F1 dumbed down I see less rules and more freedom to the engineers and teams, could you imagine the innovations the likes of Newey would come up with if set free?


Sorry but I don’t agree, the teams you mentioned left for their own political reasons.

The truth is it costs to play with the big boys and if you can’t afford the ticket then they should play elsewhere.

The teams made (in my opinion) huge error by not breaking away when they could and should have, too much is creamed off by Ecclestone.


HRT might just beat Virgin and still not be on the grid come Malaysia. From what I have seen that car does have promise, if they get some setup done.

But Liuzzi might be right about the lap times in Q1 if the top teams feel they need to go to the softer tyres.


nice article, i always like reading articles on the lower ranked teams – and it’s fascinating to watch the battle between these 3 newest teams and how it develops.

Too bad that none of them has any significant sponsorship yet.


As a life long supporter of all the underdogs, I sincerely wish them very best. They have the right people on board in their technical team and their drivers (yes NK and Liuzzi are not Alonso/Hamilton, but have been competitive in other series and their results have been proportional to the capabilities of their cars in F1).

The team is where it is due to flip-flopping of long term strategy by the team owner which has resulted in last minute scramble to put together their car. And its in this environment of uncertainty and management flip flopping on operational strategy, the team will loose good technical resources, something that the team owner has to address..

Again hoping that the team does beat the other two sophomore teams in their season 2


James. Interesting to hear Geoffs view, and its something I have great interest in.

The amount of armchair expert criticism of HRT has been massive. Some of it fair, but some of it factually incorrect (i.e they had all winter to develop a car) and understimating the step up from a lower formula.

As I and anyone who works in finance/an owner trying to obtain finance/sponsorship in the last 2 years knows that the lack of funding is unprecedented.

Campos badly overestimated what a spanish F1 team could recoup in funding and sponsorship, and all of the driver changes last year.

What is clear is the Kolles and Willis lead organisation is quite different from the badly planned org that started out with campos.

As Williams have been providing the gearbox deal, do you know if a KERS package could be added. From what I’ve been lead to believe the amount of money it costs is relatively little (compared to the other spend). I’m amazed the 3 newer teams havent looked to buy in the Kers just like they did with the trans or engines.

People have been writing HRT off as a joke, but there are reasons I feel that they will do OK.

* Geoff is a top guy, and he knows which way is up. If its about getting the best out of a package of whats available, I think he’ll do it.

* Redesign > the HRT started hopelessly off the pace last year, but actually despite no real dev, they progressed by learning about the car, and about how the team works.

* Drivetrain > what is effectively last years williams package of engine and gearbox has got to be stepup from last year.

* Luizzi is a good driver, he may not be a world beater but he is of proven F1 level.

* Kolles > I’m not his biggest fan, but what he is very good at is making the best of what is available.

I’ve posted a number of times to predict Virgin will end up behind HRT, but I got absolutely hammered for saying it.

Malaysia may be just too early, but I predict by the 3rd race they’ll be on pace with Virgin and probably ahead.

So good luck to Kolles, Willis and all of the guys working late in Oz only to be dissapointed.

I can’t wait to see those who hammered HRT have to eat their words, or fall back on the Virgin are rubbish too excuse.

Just ask Frank Williams or Peter Sauber, two very experience hands, how hard its been to raise sponsors, and then come back and tell me they are a joke.

I’m not saying HRT are the new williams or Mercedes , but underestimating just how big a venture it is stepping from GP2 or whatever into F1 is ridiculous.


It’s me or I feel sometimes that you’re talking to me. I don’t remember that you said HRT will overtake Virgin but I do agree with you now. How much is the gap between them I don’t know but HRT humbled Virgin in Austrilia and god knows how hard it is to be humbled by them.

Actually, I think that both teams should be ditched out of F1. Virgin because of an incompetence well rooted within the team and HRT because the owners aren’t serious about it. I might be wrong but I feel that they want to sell the team and make profit in the process.

The main culprit is still Max Mosley who promised a cheap entry to the pinnacle of motorsport. So those teams signed for a contract with terms which have been changed midway in the route after the FOTA/Mosley war. How can we blame them ? Promises bind only those who believe them.

We can say they were


Jo, not at all aimed at you 😉 you must be imagining things. I enjoy reading your posts.

F1 is basically self regulating financially in that if neither get to the required level they won’t last too long.


Personally I think HRT are a shambles. With the 107% rule in place, this year will really show if they deserve their place on the grid.

First it was them not attending pre-season testing, then they finally make it to the last test only to have parts “delayed in customs”, they have practically no sponsors and their “This is a great spot” tongue and cheek sponsor location replacements are also very embarrassing. Yes everyone has to start somewhere, but this is Formula One, the Dragons Den of motorsport; and by god you’d better have a sound business plan in place before you enter the arena.


Have to agree

There is also the comments made by the team. I could like them if they were not so arrogant. ‘We would have been 10th last year but we had rookie drivers…’ and the whole FOTA thing -‘we left because they don’t represent small teams. well actually we were kicked out, because we didn’t pay – but that’s because…’

The latest one is very funny. But for a crash, they would have taken 10th? Hang on, what happened in Korea when a Virgin was looking at 12th place or higher, until a Torro Rosso took it out? That was a crash too…

They need to be realistic, be honest, admit that last years revolving door on the driver seat fitting department was caused by a lack of money, not by trying to give drivers chances. They never said that Chandhok wasn’t coming back, just that their drivers would be announced race by race to start with. They must have known.

I cannot show any sympathy for a team that doesn’t admit its position, but instead whinges about where it should, and will, be.


I agree


I have no problems with HRT, in fact I truly hope they are able to have some success in F1. Actually I hope all teams are able to have some success and are able to turn a profit each year, that will allow this great sport to continue.

That being said, I also think that the 107% rule is a good thing. F1 is the pinnacle of motorsport, and as such all the teams engaged in F1 should be within reach of that pinnacle. Any team that is unable to qualify consistently should consider moving to a less demanding series.

Hopefully HRT are able to qualify and compete (albeit at the back of the grid) this year. Hopefully they are able to do this on a tight budget, maybe then we will see some cost reductions? Probably not, but we can hope.


last year there was this really good Lithuanian driver in WSR 3.5 (is it called) sponsored by Snoras bank.. I remember seeing him and thinking he could be F1 material… what is his name?


or in GP2 he was… Kazim Vasiliauskas


Kazim Vasiliauskas was in F2 last year, and Snoras didnt sponsor him.

Vladimir Antonov is russian by the way, he just owns lithuanian bank Snoras – i know, sometimes its easy to mix up 🙂


thanks! 😀


Thought so. Vlad Antonov doesn’t sound like a Lithuanian name and I do have some experience of this being married to a Lithuanian


I hope they get their new wing because then they have fair shot at qualifying for the GP.

I am not impressed by Virgin. They must be doing a lot of soul searching right about now.


I hope Virgin make better spacecraft than they do F1 cars.


Sir Bronson came to F1 for a few bucks and won the World Championship with Brawn not missing any occasion to put his big head in front.

He thought it was easy after all and launched a proper Virgin team.

Welcome to F1.


I was under the impression that the team is basically manor motorsport and that Branson brings the sponsor base in return for the right to call the team virgin. Wasn’t manor motorsport already signed upto f1 under the 40million restriction.


One day, Sir Branson had few millions to spare, and didn’t what to do with it. But suddenly, “Hey I know!” cried Sir Branson… “Lets run a f1 team!”

So here we are with Virgin right now.


That being said, I think he was well aware he would be a backmarker for a while before any chance of success up front, if nothing else Sir Branson is not a stupid man.



Speaking of Virgin flying machines rather than cars – did Branson ever come good in his bet with Fernandez to become cabin crew on an Air Asia flight?

I hope so!



Yep… Should be. was going to happen in Feb until problems, but has been delayed till mid season I think or maybe May.


PS. They are no where near as bad as Andrea Moda – having recently read Perry McCarthy’s biography, that team was a total joke!!


Their car was designed by a certain Mr Writh, so good luck to Virgin. However truth be told their problems were mainly caused by bad management.


Whenever Mr Wirth is involved it’s the Scorched earth policy except he doesn’t mean it.


Yes, from a defunct BMW project I believe? Old Mr Sassetti was certainly a colorful character, who couldn’t be any less a f1 team manager if he tried…


That’s a great book, very funny and enjoyable read.


In some ways, I wish Max’s plan of a 40 million budget (was it dollars/pounds/euros – I forget) had come to fruition, if only to help teams at the lower end of the grid.

Anyway, back on topic, I do think Hispania can wrangled the car back from the brink – they have a good person in Geoff Willis in place and I think hiring Luizzi was a good move. Certainly the best driver they could have got to move the car forward. The fact he managed to wrestle the car around Melbourne to only 1.5s off Virgin is quite something given the total lack of testing.

The proof of the pudding will be in the eating this season with them I feel.


I think they have a reasonably good package with their car… I am sure they will out perform Virgin in Malaysia. I cannot help but root for them somehow… I hope they come through. I really do.


There’s an old-school charm about HRT, that reminds you of the days when you could buy an engine, knock up a car in the garage and attempt to qualify for a Grand Prix.

Whether this has any place in modern F1 is debatable, but I’m also supporting them.


This is the best description of why i support them too! Thanks


Lotus aren’t near the Force India pace and that’ll be a massive shocker if HRT manage to be faster than Lotus come the Spanish GP.

HRT’s problem from day one has been money. They’re a Spanish team so that already makes it difficult for them to find sponsors IMO, especially since they’re bound to also end up getting treated worse by the press than Lotus/Virgin no matter what they do.

Look at Lotus, if they ran as 1Malaysia you think they would have anywhere near the support/money they have now? Fernandes did a good job plucking the hearts/fooling the British monopoly in Formula One, and nailing the cash and personnel as a result.

It’s just business. Lotus has had the Lotus gimmick running for them from day one, IMO teams like HRT/Virgin are more true to new F1 teams than Lotus. One minute they’re a new team, the next they’re celebrating a milestone for Lotus. Whatever.


Really? What outside support do 1Malayasia have? Looks like CNN to me. NAZA, Tune, EQ8 (a.k.a LR8) and Air Asia are associated with the owners, just as Vijay Mallaya uses FI to promote his UB brands. I must admit to being amused (as a former resident) at seeing “Whyte & McKay Glasgow” being used in the same way a “Rimmel London”, say.


A lot of people who support Lotus, me included follow them because they like Mike Gascgoigne and some of the staff involved.

Agree with you on the HRT and finance situation.

Just imagine a Santander backed team if Fernando was not around. He (and quite rightly too) gets most of the sponsors looking to match with him from spain.

Now if they could find a young quick spaniard next year, then they might look like a better proposition.


Spain suffers from a big economical crisis. It’s really the worst time to look for sponsors there. The only ones who still make money are bankers. They always win and even when they loose states pay.


Absolutely agree on both counts (banks and sponsors/economy).


There’s one thing I don’t quite get – why all the doom and gloom at Virgin?

Since the MVR-02 car was developed entirely with CFD, couldn’t they just take the data they’ve gained from real-world testing, run it through the computers and make rapid adjustments based on statistical analysis?

And with more real-world results to test against the data, wouldn’t it make simulation results from subsequent designs more accurate?

I mean, I’m not expecting them to suddenly reach the front of the grid but surely they’ll be able to keep up with lower-budget teams that need to fabricate aero parts and have them tested in a wind tunnel.

Could the problem be the lack of experienced / brilliant designers at Virgin rather than an inherent weakness in CFD.


Other than CFD have other cheaper alternatives to a wind tunnel ever been tried? eg; water tunnels and on rocket sled tracks.


I read somewhere that they have a much larger computing capability for this season, which should, in theory, make their calculations more accurate.

In general, the more accurate the calculations you perform, the more expensive that calculation becomes computationally, so more/better computers will help in that way.

I think its interesting that they are trying to develop their car this way. As a computational chemist i have seen the benefits of this approach. However whilst it can be a helpful tool, there is often no substitute for ‘doing the experiment’ ie put it in the wind tunnel and see how the air ‘actually’ works over the car.


Every team uses CFD and a load of computers. The only difference is that they don’t check theirs against the results from a wind tunnel. They can check it against real world numbers, but not until testing starts. So they spent several months developing this car on the basis of a model that may or may not have been right. I guess theoretically now that the season has started and they have real world numbers they should be able to make very good changes in their design. I guess the problem is that you need money to be able to do this development and make these new parts.


But the problem is, even though they are now on the track, they have no way of knowing which parts of the CFD analysis are accurate and which aren’t. Are the wing endplates not doing their job? Are the sidepods causing turbulence? Is there a problem with the engine cover? Who knows? Imagine your car is having a handling problem; do you change spring rates, bump, rebound, camber, and wings, and all at once? Of course not, you change one thing at a time and see what the effect is. Not having wind tunnel data means they have no way to validate individual components, just the package. Relying only on CFD and not verifying the reality of the calculation is stupid. Garbage in, garbage out.


I don’t know about chemistry but Fluid Dynamics are very harsh on numerical simulations. Just look at the level of detail of the front wing of that RedBull.

In a windtunnel, it’s air and nature at work. As long as the air is well streamlined and the measuring tools well calibrated you can’t miss any physical phenomenon something you easily do with simulations. There’s the problem of the downscaled car in a windtunnel too but still…


The problem I have with the Virgin CFD concept is that sole CFD development is only good if they can get the revised parts on quicker than the other teams who make use of wind tunnels.

Last year this wasn’t the case so they have no advantage apart from saving some money but can be a whole lot worse off if an update goes in the wrong direction performance wise.


That’s been coming for a while. This guy suddenly deciding that he knew better than Ferrari, McLaren etc in so far as Computational Fluid Dynamics being the ‘new wind tunnel’. No one believed in this then and no one is buying it now. Maybe in another ten years?


I suppose he didn’t know better. But what if the CFD system was used by someone who DID know better?

If Adrian Newey worked solely with CFD (sans wind tunnel), would the Red Bull really be any slower?

With the top teams forking out big wads of cash for the best designers, surely the absence of a guru at Virgin is part of the problem, no?


” If Adrian Newey worked solely with CFD (sans wind tunnel), would the Red Bull really be any slower?”

Of course it would be slower. If Adrian Newey is able to achieve the same results without WindTunnel, why would the team spend so much money in such a facility, money they can use in developing new projects and new ideas particularly with the resource restriction agreement.

Adrian Newey is great in that he comes with great ideas and that he puts into CFD and WindTunnels ideas better than most his rivals. But and there’s a BUT here not all his ideas work properly because it’s impossible and hence they need validation (CFD, WindTunnel & Track) and most importantly even the brightest idea needs tweaking to be practicable and needs optimization and that’s where all those tools are necessary. The unreliability of the CFD makes it impossible to rely solely on it. If its results are confirmed by the WindTunnel it makes much more probable that the development works properly but the ultimate test remains the track.

Last year, McLaren brought many times developments which didn’t seem to work properly. Ferrari too mid-season struggled with blown diffuser.

Definitely then, Newey and whoever develops a F1 car need a WindTunnel.


I wrote about VIRGIN last year and I said that it was scientifically impossible to do it by CFD because not everything is numerically possible to simulate and WindTunnel is a must have. The tires wake is a particularly weak area in this respect.

The problem is Nick Wirth the anti-Adrian Newey of F1. He sold a WindTunnel to Prost GrandPrix and Prost GP went broke. And now he decides against the wisdom of the Neweys the Brawns and all the others that WindTunnels can be dismissed. Someone should remind him that all WindTunnels aren’t like the ones he used to sell.

With his new philosophy he succeeded in coming with a car which is not only slow but as slow if not slower than a car under-developed under-financed and on which work started very late : namely HRT.

The miracle is not that HRT is still here but that Wirth keeps knocking on F1 doors after so many failures.

I feel for Timo Glock



Lotus have spent time effort and money and have got somewhere

HRT have no money and are basically whoring out their seats for cash. But atleast ehy are trying. They shouldn’t be there, but they are tyring.

Virgin have had longer than Lotus in F1 (Lotus was post Toyota), a bigger budget, big name sponsors and a are mucking it up for themselves. Yet are doing worst. They haev had the best of it all, the joint best time, biggest sponsors, 1st/2nd biggest budget. Nothing.

While HRT should be ridiculed for their work, Virgin are truley the pathetic ones.

We talk about the quiet achievers, the ones that do very well despite not much fuss around them.

Virgin at the opposite. They don’t make much fuss but something more should be made of their lack of speed and ability.

HRT may wreak of horriblness from their livery to the exdrivers cashed up in the seats. But Virgin have just wasted opportunites.

And why are HRT on the grid…. 3 answers really

1) To show that Virgin are worse

2) Comic fodder

3) To show that you really need $100 US dollars a year to run at the back of field, and more than half of that can come from drivers.


Timo said he thinks they’ve taken a step backwards in terms of pace, so thats concerning.

He also answered that he thought they should revisit use of wind tunnel.


That’s like getting up off the table and telling a brain surgeon how to cut holes in your head!

The oldest problem with drivers is that they try and tell the engineers how to fix a problem rather than adequately describing the symptoms.


I dont necessarily prescribe to the same theory.

Timo has been in F1 for long enough to know a bad one when he sees one…


Any chance of a buy out and Hispania become a Saab works team?


I would be ecstatic to see Saab F1 cars.


A Saab 900 Turbo would have a better chance of qualifying.


Let’s wait and see. Maybe HRT will surprise, maybe they won’t.

F1 has definitely become too expensive, it’s not real. Despite all the efforts to bring budgets down, it’s still an exercise in spending cash, especially with all the new parts they keep introducing every year. Can we have a bit of stability please? OK, let the FIA have their so-called global or eco-friendly engines but let’s at least keep the package for a while? It’ll help smaller teams too.

By the way, I’m hearing there’s a brand new team coming to F1 next year, I should know more tomorrow morning.


Let’s not wait and see. HRT have no place in F1. Yes F1 can only benefit from having new, independant privateers take part – but not at any cost. This team is so preposterous that it doesn’t seem like a real situation. Feels more to me like someone’s elaborate tax scam than a real team trying to make it in F1. Even Spain’s own national motor racing organisation recently said they’d rather not have a spanish team than this embarressment.

Besides, quite aside from all the aruments about F1 being the pinncale of F1 etc etc What HRT are doing cannot possibly be safe; not for the drivers, competition, marshalls or spectators. Their cars should never be allowed to race if they have not been tested pre season.


Their cars were not allowed to race as they didn’t make the 107% rule. That’s the whole idea of the rule.


Sorry, I thought you were referring to them being slow and hence a danger to faster cars.

In that case I would point out that they passed the crash tests designed to ensure that the cars ARE safe.

Also, was it not a Sauber that was shedding pieces of its engine cover and a McLaren that had a floor failure? Should they also not have been allowed to race?


Their speed has nothing to do with how safe their cars are.


Phew, you submit a simple comment and the thing just explodes – only here!

I’m sure the FIA crash tests showed just how safety is important to the sport’s governing body, in the end both HRT cars ran with the 2010-spec wing as a direct consequence of safety regulations, which is the right thing to do.

I agree that the whole procedure with the new teams was handled badly, the FIA had to make them do a Toyota and spend 2010 testing before making an appearance on the grid this year. I mean I appreciate their effort and the amount of money they spend probably would’ve been enough to fund a solid DTM programme combined with Le Mans, WTCC, and WRC – maybe that would’ve been better. Virgin, 1 Malaysia aka sort of Team Lotus and HRT really qualify only as backmarkers, nothing particularly inspirational. Just a personal opinion as an outsider; OK, I get to penetrate the F1 paddock occasionally but nothing serious. I think F1 people are better placed to pass judgement on this stuff.


April Fools day for a new team launch???


people said the same about the safety aspect last year and it proved to be no problem.


That’s like saying we don’t need to keep knives away from children simply because no child actually managed to hurt themselves with a knife last year. It’s More luck than judgemnent.


And how far do you take it, should the McLaren not be allowed to race as the complete floor was different to the ones tested pre-season???


Intrigued about the new team… look forward to your breaking news!


00:01 GMT, April 1st, it’s coming soon, on me blog. I know the timing is not right and people won’t take it seriously but I’m 4 real, just like Lewis.


Yep, might be slightly 20th century, but I sometimes get these crazy stories circulating in my head so it’s nice to get rid of them at least once a year. I can’t do it more often because otherwise it’ll resemble gpdiary & many other copycats. Last year I sold Virgin Racing to Glock and di Grassi, this year Schumi gets his own F1 team with “funny” sponsors.

By the way, what would be the 21st century’s version of the 20th century April Fool? Fake F1 drivers/personalities on twitter?


Nope, no more Spanish teams. I can’t say anything until midnight – it’ll spoil the effect, but I’m sure Bradley Lord (if he’s in charge of the team’s twitter account) and the entire MGP press office will be surprised.


April Fool! How very 20th century


April fools perhaps.


Another Spanish team?


James Allen

I find no mention of Colin Kolles in your article, and was wondering how you rate him? From what i have read elsewhere, he seems to be performing admirably under the circumstances.


He’s a survivor that’s for sure.


Some of his comments though have lacked credibility.

How can he honestly claim that there are other teams in worse financial shape than HRT? Obviously, other teams are facing financial issues, but not to the degree of HRT.

Also, I was not impressed when he tried to put a lot of the blame on Senna and Chandhok (as rookie drivers) for last year’s struggles. Liuzzi might be a stronger driver at this stage, but definitely not NK.


Maybe he meant that other teams were spending money which they dont have, but to a far, far greater extent than HRT. After all, their expenditure is the bare minumum to maintain a barely credible presence in F1. Whereas Force India, for example, are owned by a man who has huge, huge debts in his airline, who is running up large costs in other sports, yet is trying his best to create a strong midfield team, with all the costs involved. Sure, Colin Kolles is running with Vladimir Antonov’s money, but realistically they are not spending in a way that will leave them loosing anything other than ownership of the team. Also bear in mind that last year they did not even try to develop the car in the second half of the season, yet still continued to improve simply due to set up developments. There are some very competent people in the team – they got some decent running on pirelli tyres in their 2010 car, and I reakon they will show virgin, maybe even lotus, that you can compete at the back of the grid on a shoestring. It is also an indication of the brilliant competition across the grid in general.


Would the backing that NK has from Tata help to explain matters?

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