Karun Chandhok has admitted that Hispania Racing is two months behind with its F1 programme due to its problems over the winter, but has to simply 'do the best we can with the cards we've been dealt'.
The team missed all of pre-season testing as it fought for survival, eventually making it to the season opener in Bahrain after an eleventh hour deal that saw Jose Ramon Carrabante secure control of what was then Campos Meta 1.
It meant that Chandhok and Bruno Senna went into their maiden F1 campaigns without any prior running, and while Chandhok was able to bring home the first finish for the team in Australia, he admits there is a long way to go to close on the teams rivals.
“I don't think anyone in F1 has gone straight into qualifying without testing or a single lap of free practice,” he said, referring to his debut at Sakhir. “It is going to be very tough. With the car we didn't do any winter testing. We are two months behind the programme, but we will keep chipping away and see where we end up. Melbourne was a step forward. We got one car to the finish and that was a step in itself. The more miles we do, the more we learn about the car.
“These guys were lucky to be pounding around Valencia, Barcelona and Jerez in the winter time and we didn't get that opportunity, so unfortunately we are testing in public in front of all you guys and all these cameras and it is not easy, but these are the cards we have been dealt with, so we will do the best job we can.”
While the finish in Australia has boosted the entire team, Chandhok added that there was improvement to come in all areas, with downforce in particular being something that Hispania needs to work on.
“I think we are both rookies in the team, so we have got a lot to learn obviously,” he said. “Qualifying in particular is quite critical and learning about how you have got to bring the tyres in for the one lap and get the tyres to the optimum temperature and pressure for your qualifying lap.
“In GP2 we did not have tyre warmers and so the way you went about was a bit different. In Melbourne, for example, that was my mistake. I was too slow on the out lap, just building the tyres up gently, and I dumped four tenths to myself just between lap one and lap two of the first sector because I did not know how to get the tyres in for lap one. Just small things like that. There is a lot to learn as drivers for the team. It is not rocket science.
“We need downforce. That is the big thing in F1 and we are a long way behind these guys in terms of downforce levels. Mechanically as well I think the first step was to get the car finished and now we are trying to develop it.”