HRT drivers hoping to qualify in Malaysia after Melbourne debacle

HRT Formula One Team HRT F112 worked on in the garage. Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Preparations, Sepang, Malaysia, Thursday 22 March 2012.

HRT mechanics work on the F112 in the Sepang pit garage

Mar.22 (Reuters) HRT should be quick enough to qualify for the Malaysian Grand Prix after misfiring in Melbourne last weekend, drivers Pedro De la Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan said on Thursday.

Pedro de la Rosa walks the sepang track with dani Clos and the HRT crew

Pedro de la Rosa walks the Sepang track with Dani Clos and the HRT crew

The Spanish-owned team blamed cooling issues and a drag reduction system (DRS) that did not work for their absence from the season-opening starting grid in Australia for the second year in succession.

However they had been racing against time after failing to get their new car to F1’s pre-season testing for the third year in a row. HRT have yet to score a point since their debut in 2010.

“On paper everything, if it’s addressed, we should be able to qualify and then we have to use it to get miles on the car and see where we are during the race and so on,” Indian Karthikeyan, in his second year with the team, told reporters in sweltering Sepang.

“107 percent will be tough but we’re confident to scrape through, that’s the first goal.”

L to R): Mark Perkins (GBR) Driver Manager talks with Narain Karthikeyan (IND) HRT Formula One Team. Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Preparations, Sepang, Malaysia, Thursday 22 March 2012.

Narain Karthikeyan talks to driver manager Mark Perkins

Under the rules, drivers must qualify within 107 percent of the best time set in a session in order to be allowed to race, although stewards can use their discretion and allow them to start depending on the circumstances.

De la Rosa, making his return to grand prix racing at 41 years of age after one race as an emergency Sauber stand-in last year, also said that with a working DRS the team should be able to make the cut.

“I know so little about the car and definitely we’ve made big steps. Will they be enough? Well we will see. I hope so,” the former McLaren test driver told reporters.

“It’s too early to say. If everything goes as planned then we have a very high chance.”

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