Perez-Sala: My first taste of HRT was a total disaster

Luis Perez-Sala

Luis Perez-Sala

Aug.6 (GMM) Current HRT team principal Luis Perez-Sala has revealed that his first encounter with the struggling Spanish team, at the 2011 British GP, when the team was still under under his predecessor Colin Kolles, was not a happy one.

(L to R): Luis Perez-Sala (ESP) HRT Consultant with Colin Kolles (GER) HRT Formula One Team. Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Belgian Grand Prix, Preparations, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Thursday 25 August 2011.The former Minardi driver was appointed by HRT’s new owners Thesan Capital last year.

“What I saw, I did not like,” Perez-Sala told El Pais newspaper.

“It was a total disaster. There was no organisation, no credibility. No aerodynamic research. No home, no identity. Everything was outsourced. No technician was based at the same place. They said it was a Spanish team, but there was nothing Spanish,” he added.

Since then – even though HRT remains at the rear of the grid – a lot has changed. Perez-Sala, who has overseen the team’s relocation to plush headquarters in Madrid, said the restructuring followed an “autopsy” of HRT’s first two seasons as Campos and Hispania.

“It was clear that Pedro [de la Rosa] had to be with us,” he explained. “He was the key.

HRT Formula One Team team photograph. (L to R): Dani Clos (ESP) HRT Formula One Team HRT F112 Third Driver; Pedro De La Rosa (ESP) HRT Formula One Team; Luis Perez-Sala (ESP) HRT Formula One Team, Team Prinicpal; Narain Karthikeyan (IND) HRT Formula One Team; Ma Qing Hua (CHN) HRT Formula One Team HRT F112 Development Driver. Formula One World Championship, Rd11, Hungarian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Budapest, Hungary, Saturday 28 July 2012.“He [is] Spanish, he is experienced, he is honest. He has been more than ten years in Formula One, knows everyone and knows how to develop a car with the mechanics and the engineers.

“He contributes a lot as a driver, but having him with us helps us to grow, to have a plan without taking stabs in the dark.”

De la Rosa, who was enticed by Sala to join HRT despite being offered only half the pay of his McLaren reserve role, admits he too had a “bad” first impression of the team.

“They had been in F1 [for] two years and yet it did not look like a serious project. They had a bad structure that was difficult to change.

“I wanted to sign before, but I had no trust. When I saw Luis was there, I thought about it.

“Then there were some good arguments: to race again with a team with a Spanish license, Spanish bosses, mechanics and engineers, a Spanish driver.

(L to R): Pedro De La Rosa (ESP) HRT Formula 1 Team and Luis Perez-Sala (ESP) HRT Formula One Team, Team Prinicpal. Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Practice, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday 16 March 2012.“I liked the idea of being here [in Spain] not in England where the other teams are, but to create something different and a structure that is staying in Spain. It sounded good,” said de la Rosa.

HRT’s chief executive Saul Ruiz de Marcos revealed that the team’s budget in 2012 is EUR 50 million, which is seven times less than the biggest teams, and half that of immediate competitor Caterham.

“If we succeed, we can get sponsors and make money in three years,” he said. “The secret is to spend every last euro to develop the car aerodynamically, which is where you gain the most time.”

De Marcos said one strategy is to “get closer” to the lucrative Indian and Chinese markets, which have not yet been fully tapped by Formula One.

“We already have a driver of Indian nationality, Narain Karthikeyan,” he said, “and we are developing what will be the first Chinese driver in the history of Formula One, Ma Qing Hua.”

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  • Kimi4WDC

    Good luck!