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HRT to miss Mugello test to concentrate on Madrid move
Posted By: James Allen  |  25 Apr 2012   |  3:15 pm GMT  |  100 comments

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.

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Hello James,

Do you know why Lewis Hamilton is not allowed to test at Mugello, he dearly wanted to be back in the car.

Why don’t McLaren give him just one day?

Is it because of Button don’t want to test?

It’s a slap in the face for Hamilton IMO, who publicly wanted to test.

Is it a sign that McLaren & Lewis Hamilton have already parted ways?


They are a small team with limited resources and people, and their car ‘development’ was seriously compromised over the winter. Better their staff focus on getting their HQ up and running so they can actually build a new car for next season. They’re already competing with Marussia on a much smaller budget, with a bit of stability this team could well start to close on the back of the midfield.


Oh come on. If they don’t get their act together and sort the car out soon they may not even need a new headquarters.

Who in their right mind would want to sponsor HRT at the moment? Dead last on the grid, virtually no TV coverage (apart from when they are being lapped – maybe that’s the plan?), don’t attend the test sessions etc.

I feel sorry for Luis-Perez Sala, he seems like a nice guy and I hope he can turn HRT into a solid outfit, but so far they have gone backwards since entering the sport.


It’s pretty tough for them Even for a UK team the mechanics had half a day off on Monday then straight into preparing cars for the Mugello test. To get all the way back to Spain, then turn around the cars with a small staff, to get to Mugello and then back again. You can see why they felt it wasn’t practical and they would focus on running in Barcelona


Lots of criticism on here towards HRT’s decision. But it seems right to me. With limited resources it’s better to focus on what you’ve got, rather than potentially open yourselves to confusion from too much information. Concentrate the budget on honing where you are. Consolidate on what they have learnt from the first four races.


Thanks for the clarification, James. It makes much more sense when you lay it out like that.

They could have worded their press release a bit better though, because it comes across as: “We can’t be bothered with testing, we’re going to move our HQ instead, because that will give us a better chance to improve.”

What they should have said is: “Logistically, we are unable to attend the test in Mugello, so we are concentrating on in-house issues.”


Time for a Siesta lads. Testing can wait till Manana……yaaaaaaaawn. s.s.s.s.s.s


Having no money for testing is not a reason to be ashamed: Ending ahead of Virgin in tha last two seasons should be a reason of great proud for HRT and shows how passionate they are about racing. If just for that one reason people should show some more respect!

What I find more interesting is how DeLaRosa feels about skipping chances to get behind the wheel, given that he just joined HRT to do precisely that!


Very interesting test for F1 teams. By the way, we will have a chance to compare the time record for F1 cars and MotoGP’s Super Bikes. Which one will be faster? I am very curious to know.

– The fastest time at the track was set by Casey Stoner in MotoGP with the time 1’48.034 (Average speed: 174.8 km/h). Top speed: 349.3 km/h by Dani PEDROSA (SPA) – Honda Team.


The F1 cars will smash that time. If you look at silverstone an F1 car laps about 30 seconds quicker than a MotoGP bike.


bear in mind silverstone is a long circuit, especially to motogp circuits 🙂


True, but so is Mugello (only about 700m shorter than silverstone i think). Ferrari F1 cars have set times around 1.18-1.20s. Casey Stoner’s lap record was a 1.48! Shows how important downforce/contact area are to corner speed and putting the power down.


I think it has been previously established that an F1 car will always beat a MotoGP bike on the same track. I read something somewhere that on one track (I forget which one) Michael Schumacher did 5 laps in the time it took the bike to do 4 laps.


Formula one cars will be hugely faster as they have the downforce in braking and the corners. They used to test a Brno and again f1 cars were much faster


They also have 4 huge tyres to grip around the corner and two of those pt the power down on to the track.

A MotoGP bike has a contact patch about the size of a credit card to put the power down

Tom in adelaide

350km/h on a bike? That’s insane!!

Anyway, i’m getting tired of seeing HRT’s hold up other cars. Surely there’s a better team waiting in the wings?


Well, you may find this link interesting.

2008 MotoGP champion Rossi, testing the F1 2008 Constructors Championship winning car.

!m22.55, I don’t know how this compares with the F1 lap record but gives an idea of the difference between F1 cars and bikes.


“work on the car and properly preparing for the Spanish Grand Prix”

….. so they can really properly come last in qualifying and the race, again. Brilliant.


It’s a fine art, it takes some getting right.


1) As someone else has hinted, it’s clear that HRT are skipping this test opportunity purely to save money. I can understand that, even though it seems, superficially, crazy to miss the opportunity.

2) I wonder if Ferrari will have cameras hidden in their track to secretly photograph the undersides of the better cars to try to learn their secrets?!! 😉


HRT’s goals are obviously nationalistic. In a global economy, it seems a bit anachronistic.


other team are test new update part for spain gp ..


The ban on in-season testing was daft… thousand of hours of computer simulations will never compare to a day’s testing on a real race track , with real wind, real g-forces, and with real high speeds.

it’s a shame HRT won’t be there – but I understand there reasons for not going.


What makes you think that teams would spend their budget on testing or simulation, when they can have both?


Millions were spent on wind tunnels. As claimed Ferrari, there were positives on the 2012 car. On track it’s one of the worst car Ferrari designed. Shocking. If there’s no improvement after this test, sayorana. In F1 don’t expect a breath of compassion at all.

From a movie, “Be first, be smart or cheat”. The last is the least credible.

Bad luck for Alonso and even worst for Felipe.


I guess they figure this season they’re going to be at the back no matter what they do, so why not just party like its 1999?

ps; that is one ugly car. I’d expect something a bit more stylish from them at the very least.


James, thoroughly enjoy the different angles/stories you bring to the sport. Off topic, Lotus (James Allison spoke about this) is looking to conduct a wind sheer test the week prior to the Mugello test. For the uninformed, what is this test trying to achieve specifically other than the obvious…..going faster??


It is things like this which make me wonder about HRT. It is always better to test and clock up the miles no maatter what the excuse as you will always learn something. The excuse that we are moving and want to focus our efforts on the next Grand Prix… well whats better than focusing our efforts than on a racetrack testing? Does the team really want to forward or just make up the numbers?


A beautiful circuit. I went there for the MotoGp last year.

I still feel Ferrari are the hardest hit by the ban on in season testing. They invested in two test tracks over the years, and even offered the use of them to their fellow teams, in an attempt to retain testing. But no, millions had to be spent by all teams on simulators….



I think this was Mosley’s final action whilst FIA president. He resented LDM and Ferrari and done everything he could to handicap them, including letting the F1 teams and world know about secret funds that were paid to them for their historical significance to the sport.


Yes, he definitely had a personal agenda against the Reds. The only good thing he did whilst in the job was improve driver safety.


Maybe ban simulators and bring back public testing at lots of different circuits – maybe a day testing before each weekends racing? Wouldn’t that please the fans and the budgets would be about the same. Isn’t this a sport driven by it’s fans?


Good point, and good idea. I’d go and watch testing.


In my view, F1 will never be a green sport. Also, F1 supporters travelling to the races in their cars or by aeroplane, produces far more waste and pollutants than the teams and racing. For F1 to be green, it would have no supporters travelling to the track. Or the sport be banned completely.


No testing in simulator might not be cheaper but is greener. No pollution, saves fuel, resources. Drivers can do it anytime and become familiar with all tracks instead of being familiar with the test track.

So its better considering driver safety.

I think even it would be cheaper than actual testing.


Seriously, why is HRT even bothering to compete if they dont have the resources to attend the testing? Their car is already a mobile chicane which is several seconds off the pace. Perhaps instead of relocating to Madrid they could relocate to indy car.

If you bring in the 107% to maybe 104% they will get the hint.

Marty McSuperFly

Are Tata providing anything other than sponsorship? Do they have engineers in the team?



In the era of severely limited testing, the idea of having dedicated test drivers is completely stupid.

If you’ve no faith in the feedback of your main drivers, why are they in the car? (as it will certainly not be well setup through weekends so loosing out on potential performance)


Hence the reason why Lewis is booting Oliver and Gary out of his car and doing the testing himself.


And if Lewis and McLaren don’t sign a new contract and everybody else is sign up, McLaren would be left with no tested drivers.

That’s why most teams prefer to test their drivers to evaluate them. To know what they have in the team. Not necesarily to get a racing seat, but even for their simulator tests.

They need to know that Gary is around 90% of what Lewis or Jenson are capable of..or if he is some sort of wiz and might be faster then them.

I hope you understand what I am saying.


I’m surprised he’s even had to make a decision. I thought that with McLaren having a legitimate shot at the championships this year both Lewis and Jenson would be chomping at the bit to go testing.

It seemed as though they had the quickest car at the start of the season but now they qualify well and usually drop off the pace in the race. I wonder if McLaren’s (relatively) poor results recently have forced Lewis into deciding to attend the test?


Should put Kimi in. He could punt it around AND eat ice creams at the same time.


This ice cream thing is getting really old now.

They’re constantly mentioning it on Sky Sports, one of the interviewers (Natalie Pinkham I think) even asked him if he was going to have an ice cream to celebrate after Bahrain.

Kimi did not look impressed…..


In fairness, Kimi *never* looks impressed. 🙂


True. Seemed particularly annoyed by this though.


this is why Raikkonen is the coolest driver on the grid.

what other driver would have a track day at the Nurburgring with the infamous Kim Dotcom?


Any driver who would sell his soul for money.


No doubt you believe that Kimi is also responsible for the Lotus design this year?


Clearly a financial issue for HRT but I cannot say on their budget I blame them for missing this test.

Despite not testing during the winter they are just as close to Caterham who tested all summer than they were last season. They have the same amount of points as them and if it had not been for Jenson Button hitting NK then they would be ahead of them in the constructors table.

Until they have the infrastructure in place to move forward, I am quite sure they will be happy to beat the 107% rule and not lose any money.

They have already given one young driver a chance to shine and he has moved on to better things. Who is to say they wont be the breeding ground for many a good driver in years to come.


HRT took on Ricciardo because Red Bull paid handsomely for the honor, and I’d be willing to bet that Ricciardo wouldn’t have so much as set one foot in the HRT garage without a very firm contract for something else in the future. Otherwise, HRT is where dreams of F1 stardom go to die. (I’m looking at you, Narain.)

I may very well be mistaken on this, but I don’t think that HRT has ever participated in a meaningful test. I know for a fact that they’ve shown up to the first race of every season of their existence with a car that’s never turned a wheel in anger. I don’t think that missing this test, which is free courtesy of Ferrari, is a move in the right direction.

How are they ever going to garner attention from potential sponsors if they’re not only the worst team in F1, but also the one with the least amount of public exposure?


They have not and given the millions of pounds Caterham have spent on testing in the past three years to only be 1 second ahead of HRT and miles behind the rest of the field I think it’s HRT who look the smart ones.

The track maybe free but I doubt the spare parts, transport, man power would have been free. Costly stuff when you do not have an upgrade to test.


Another way to look at that is to notice that the regulations are so claustrophobic these days that relative parity amongst the teams – at least in F1 terms – is almost a given; that’s borne out by the fact that through four races, we’ve seen four winning constructors. This helps HRT, because the regulations simply will not allow for a team to be any slower. But, even then, they’ve twice failed to qualify for a race.

This team is in its third year of existence, and yet they’re still going through the machinations of a team that’s never run a race. I don’t know how they’ll ever improve if they continue to forgo the very few opportunities granted for teams to do just that. Consistency is won through testing.

HRT seem content to consistently be the worst team in F1. Perhaps they’re gunning for worst team ever?


why does testing have to come back if it was saving money? seems a silly thing to do. ferrari obviously want it because their car’s rubbish


The teams did one less pre season test and all the teams wanted this in season test. And the test was agreed well before ferrari had any idea they had a rubbish car


Ferrari obviously want it because this was where they invested their money years ago. The British teams spent their money on electronic simulations and CFD facilities which Ferrari is building up now.

It seems Mosley was determined to punish Ferrari in any manner he could.

Anyway, this is the only sport in the world where the participants can’t practice away from the actual competition.

Can you imagine if the football teams had the same restrictions on training and how much money they could spend a year.

Why can Man Utd, pay their players 6 figure salaries per week, spend £30,000,000 to get them signed up, whereas the Stoke and West Brom’s of this world get by on relative peanuts?

The world is a hierachical world, it’s not about bringing everyone down to the lowest common denominator. It’s about aiming for the best.

The joke is football is essentially a plaything for the rich, whereas F1 teams and manufacturers are some of the wealthiest best run companies in the world.


Compared to football, testing is vastly more expensive and in contrast to football the chaps battling it out on the playground are less important than technology and engineers. So you’re comparing apples and oranges.


my anonymous (?) friend, you’re right if you wish to remain pedantic!

You know exactly what I mean.

Regarding expense, Ferrari in 2002 tested constantly and Bridgestone paid the testing bills. Somewhere in the region of $200,000,000 annually.

Football, 22 team in the premiership?

20 odd footballers in every team?

Most earning millions a year?

You know exactly where I’m going with this, and I’m only talking about the UK.

Take a look at football in Europe, US football, baseball then check out the crazy monies involved


Why? Because I and many like me don’t want to see a season like last year and the brawn season where you know after race one who will win the championship.


How does extra testing stop the team who won the first race from dominating? Look at 2000 to 2004 when Ferrari were dominant, complete unrestricted testing didn’t stop them. If anything this next test could open the gap in the competition. Better funded teams can bring a load of upgrades to test and improve the car, whereas the smaller teams cannot afford to bring as many. The gap between the front car and the last will grow quicker so the chance of Sauber fighting a Ferrari will disappear quicker.


and they have buckets of cash!


Too right. They invested in 2 test tracks over the years, and were hit hard when testing was banned.


I believe Alonso will be in the car on days one and three…


Like James says?? (scratches head)


When James first posted his article it said Alonso will be in the car in days one and two, but I believe after Marc’s comment he edited it.

Was a simple typo.


There was a typo that has since been corrected…


No surprises.

Moving – again!! Not good 🙁


I guess HRT like moving headquarters better than moving cars. They moved 4 times in 3 seasons, didn’t they? Does anyone know a Formula-1 team that has moved more often?


Move 1: When Campos were bought out, they moved to Kolles HQ in Germany

Move 2: When they split with Kolles, they moved to a temporary base in Spain.

Move 3: They are moving to their permanent HQ.

That’s three moves in my book.


Doesn’t FIA rule allow only “One Move” ?? 😀


Yes, you’re right: 4 headquarters makes 3 moves.

So does anyone know a Formula-1 team that has had more than 4 headquarters in 3 years?


I think that HRT have gotten their priorities all wrong.

HRT – If you really think that an administrative exercise is going to benefit your team more than honest-to-goodness track time and a decently worked out testing schedule, you are sadly deluded.

They really are a shambolic excuse for a team. I understand not having the budgets of the big boys, but it seems that they aren’t serious about even competing. With a ban on seasonal testing, this Mugello test should be like mana from heaven for a team struggling with even qualifying for races.

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