Feb.17 (GMM) HRT on Friday refused to guarantee Narain Karthikeyan will race the full season with the struggling Spanish team.
Albeit with different team ownership and management, HRT began the 2011 season also with Indian Karthikeyan at the wheel, but he was replaced mid-season for the Red Bull-backed Daniel Ricciardo deal.
Reportedly with millions in sponsor backing, 35-year-old Karthikeyan is back on track for this season -- but perhaps not guaranteed a place at all twenty races.
"The idea as of now is to race him the whole season, but nothing is taken for granted in F1, you have to work for your place in every race," team boss Luis Perez Sala told the Indo Asian News Service.
"But as things stand, Karthikeyan and Pedro will race the entire season," the former Minardi driver added.
While Karthikeyan's teammate Pedro de la Rosa was testing the 2011 car last week at Jerez, HRT's new single seater failed two of the FIA's mandatory crash tests.
That means the team will sit out next week's Barcelona running altogether.
"We have a new car and a new team. That means, to start with, we will be a little bit behind," said Sala.
"But we believe that sometimes to improve you must go backwards firstly, we have taken one step backwards in order to take two forward. Our target is to grow little by little as the season goes on.
"If we can stay ahead of Marussia, we will be happy and if we get closer to Caterham, then we will be delighted, but our first objective is to get things under way, improve on reliability and progress as the season advances."