By: Berthold Bouman - F1 Correspondent
At the penultimate pre-season testing day at the Circuito de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain, Hispania Racing, or HRT, revealed their 2011 contender, the HRT F111. The car was designed by Technical Director Geoff Willis and Chief Designer Paul White. Willis has previously worked for Williams, BAR-Honda and Red Bull Racing. The HRT F111 will like in 2010, be powered by the Cosworth engine, designed, developed, built and tested at Cosworth’s headquarters in St James Mill Road, Northampton, UK.
The livery of the F11 is a design of Daniel Simon, a German concept designer and automotive ‘futurist’. Team Principal and Managing Director Colin Kolles, “Daniel has created a wonderfully confident look for our new car which really captures the effort the whole team has put into developing the F111. The car design and the graphic design perfectly complement one another and mark the real beginnings of our ambitions.”
HRT was the last team to reveal their new car, Kolles about the very late debut, “We started later because of the circumstances. There were certain circumstances which put us in a position to start a little bit later with the car, therefore we are later.” Kolles and his team still have today and tomorrow to test the F111 before the Formula One circus arrives in Melbourne for the first round of the FIA (Federation Internationale de L’Automobile )Formula One World Championship.
HRT is the first ever Spanish outfit to compete in Formula One and the team started its somewhat shaky life one year ago after Spanish entrepreneur José Ramón Carabante took over the team from ex-Formula One driver Adrián Campos, who couldn’t find the funds to realize his life-long dream: a Spanish Formula One team. Kolles came to the rescue of the team and HRT did make it to the start of the season, but financial problems and a relation with Italian chassis builder Dallara that went sour forced the uncompetitive team to the back of the grid. But it must be said, Kolles did the impossible, and under his guidance the struggling Spanish outfit did end ahead of other newcomer, Virgin Racing, in the 2010 Constructors’ Championship.
Vitantonio Liuzzi joined the Spanish team after he lost his seat at Force India to Paul di Resta, and the Italian’s experience will certainly be welcomed. The 29-year old Liuzzi has participated in 63 Grands Prix and scored 29 world championship points. He made his Formula One debut during the 2005 San Marino Grand Prix for Red Bull Racing. He drove another three races for Red Bull in 2005 and drove for Scuderia Toro Rosso in 2006 and 2007. He became Force India’s test driver in 2008, and in 2009 and 2010 Liuzzi was promoted to regular driver for the Indian team.
Kolles about Liuzzi, “I have known Tonio for many years as he raced with me in lower categories. He is a very professional driver who will bring a lot of benefits to the team.” And added, “I am convinced about his skills to develop a car and his speed. He has shown this in the past having contributed to a large extend developing and moving a back grid car to the front. I had the pleasure of working with him and I am very happy and proud to have him racing with Hispania Racing.”
I face a new challenge now and this excites me
Liuzzi was of course happy with his new team, “I am really happy to have signed this agreement with Hispania Racing. I never lost hope to be in Formula One as I knew I have the experience and the right attributes for a young and ambitious team.” And the Italian added, “I face a new challenge now and this excites me. I also face a lot of hard work in guiding Hispania Racing through the development of our new car. I am extremely grateful to José Ramón Carabante and to Colin Kolles for giving me such an opportunity.”
Liuzzi’s relation with India continues this year, as Indian Narain Karthikeyan is his team colleague this season. The 34-year old Indian also made his debut in 2005 and participated as the first Indian driver ever in 19 Grands Prix for the Jordan team. Karthikeyan wasn’t able to continue his Formula One career and from 2006-2009 he participated in the A1GP series for team India, and in 2010 he moved to the Superleague Formula series after the A1GP series unexpectedly went into liquidation.
Narain Karthikeyan already secured a race seat at HRT in January and will return to Formula one after a five-year absence. “I’m looking forward to racing for Hispania Racing, and to working again with Dr. Colin Kolles,” Kartrhikeyan said. And added, “We have a long standing and excellent working relationship together. I’m also looking forward to racing at the first ever Indian Grand Prix in October, and I hope that the Indian public will spur me on with their blessings and good wishes.” Kolles was equally positive, “I am sure that his experience and speed will be very useful for the team during the season. We are welcoming Narain to our team and we look forward to working closely with him this year.”
Yesterday HRT announced Panda Security will sponsor the outfit during the 2011 season. According to a statement Panda Security will ‘provide security solutions and VIP support services to protect the Hispania Racing IT infrastructure (both for the team’s office and mobile computers). Additionally, the F1 team will include the Spanish multinational logo on all its sponsorship materials and give it preferential access to various activities and services during the 2011 season’.
The F111 will not make it's first on track appearance tomorrow as planned due to an unexpected delay getting a part cleared by customs.
"Unfortunately we could not get the dampers out of customs," said Kolles in a released team statement. "The result of this is that we can't run tomorrow. This is life and we will overcome this problem."