Berthold Bouman, F1 Correspondent
Following the dismissal of Team Principal Colin Kolles yesterday, the Spanish HRT team has appointed Luis Pérez-Sala as Team Principal. His appointment is part of a total revamp of the outfit, HRT are hoping to up their performance for 2012 after Spanish investor Thesan Capital acquired a major share in the team earlier this year, and are in fact in control of the team.
Pérez-Sala recently made a return to Formula One when he was appointed Sporting Advisor, and now moves up the ladder to take over Kolles’ role. A few weeks ago HRT also signed a two-year deal with veteran Spanish driver Pedro de la Rosa, who will make his race return next year.
Pérez -Sala about the challenge that awaits him, “This naming is an honor but also a great responsibility. I joined the team as an advisor to the new owners and to contribute with my experience in any possible way.” About HRT’s new course the Spanish ex-Formula driver commented, “We had to establish a base from which to grow slowly and we are now seeing the first rewards of that work."
“But we mustn’t lose our perspective and be aware that assuming responsibilities such as designing the car or moving the headquarters to Spain are huge tasks and we still have a lot of work ahead,” Pérez-Sala explained.
Saúl Ruiz de Marcos, HRT F1 Team CEO, is happy with the changes that have taken place so far, “From the moment we took control of the team last July, the first thing we did was to study and value where we were, whilst also set ourselves a target and establish a strategy.”
And he added, “We have been working discretely but relentlessly towards this for the last few months. We’ve always made it clear that our priorities were the car, the headquarters and our drivers. The car is evolving, Pedro [de la Rosa] has been a great asset to the team and we have always wanted to settle the team in Spain and have everybody working under one roof."
Since we began working with Luis our connection has been great
"Since we began working with Luis [Pérez-Sala] our connection has been great. Now he takes on a much more key role in the team but the decision was an easy one given his knowledge and his way of doing things.”
Pérez-Sala is confident HRT will become a successful team, but also warned it takes time to evolve, “We must be patient and keep in mind that we cannot expect to achieve great success in the short term, but we can take a team forward that we can all feel proud of.
“The simple fact that Spain has a team in the pinnacle of motorsports is already a great feat; we’re a part of the G12. And that, apart from being an honor, means a greater development to the structure and everything surrounding it”.
Ruiz de Marcos thanked his former employees for their excellent work the past two years, “I would like to also thank Colin [Kolles] and Manfredi [Ravetto] for their work and dedication in these two years that the team has existed and I wish them the very best for the future”.
HRT still have to announce their second driver, rumors say Dutchman Giedo van der Garde is eying that seat, as is Spaniard Dani Clos, while female driver Maria de Villota could become reserve and test driver. Italian media have also reported HRT wants to switch to the Renault engines next season, but hinted the team still has a 2012 contract with Cosworth.