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Kolles 'proud' as HRT 'makes history' – with one driver at least

Hispania Racing - or HRT - successfully completes its first laps in F1 as grand prix rookie Bruno Senna takes to the circuit at Sakhir in Bahrain, but team-mate Karun Chandhok is rather less fortunate...
Colin Kolles had admitted that Hispania Racing was facing an 'almost impossible race against time' in order to make the fray for the F1 2010 curtain-raising Bahrain Grand Prix this weekend following the former Campos Meta 1 operation's eleventh-hour takeover by José Ramón Carabante last month – and having taken to the track in Sakhir during opening practice today, the German acknowledged his immense pride at what has been achieved.

Aside from three brief installation laps, neither of the rather unfortunately abbreviated HRT outfit's contenders made it out during FP1 in the desert kingdom as frantic preparation work continued apace. However, Bruno Senna did venture out onto the Bahrain International Circuit later on in the afternoon session for what was to all intents and purposes the wholly-untried model's roll-out and shakedown run.

The Brazilian – nephew of the late, great three-time F1 World Champion Ayrton Senna – went on to complete 17 laps, the best of which was 11.5 seconds adrift of the outright pace, and nigh-on five seconds shy of the next-slowest runner, Lucas Di Grassi for fellow newcomer Virgin Racing. Nonetheless, it was a start – and even, for a team whose chances of making the field many had written off weeks ago, something of a minor triumph.

“It was certainly a relief to make history this morning,” Senna commented. “The car ran as planned, and everyone is happy and proud. There is still a lot of work ahead of us. Three laps this morning and 17 this afternoon is a great start. Of course, we could not try the car at its limits. I am confident that we will be working ahead, and I want to congratulate my mechanics, engineers and the whole team for their dedication.”

Team-mate Karun Chandhok, by contrast, was unable to get behind the wheel himself, as the inevitable reliability woes that afflict any untested machine reared their ugly head. That notwithstanding, the second Indian ever to reach the highest level – issued with a Superlicence following a meeting of the FIA World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) on Thursday – remained philosophical about the fact that he will now enter his maiden qualifying session in the top flight virtually blind.

“Unfortunately, I could not do any laps today as my car had some hydraulic and electronic problems,” reported the popular GP2 Series race-winner. “We knew coming in without any testing was always going to be a challenge, and were quite unlucky to miss both practice sessions. This was not the debut I was hoping for, but this is the way it is and we will do our best for the remainder of the weekend.

“Tomorrow is going to be really tough, as we have just one practice session before we head into qualifying. Bruno did get some track time, so that is a bonus for the team. The mechanics have been working straight for the last 36 hours, so I would like to thank each and every member of the team for their huge effort and commitment.”

“I am proud that our mechanics and engineers managed to make history today in Bahrain,” corroborated HRT team principal Kolles. “Everything is going to-plan, except the lack of sleep for all of us who worked through the night! To make history is not a simple task.

“The focus today for the team was to be operational and run. We are taking things one step at a time, and building on our competitiveness as the weekend and season goes on. Everyone has produced an amazing effort to make it happen, and I would like to thank everyone for their dedication.”

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