Bernie Ecclestone has acknowledged that F1 2010 newcomer Hispania Racing (HRT) has financial 'problems' as it grapples to get to grips with life in the top flight – but the sport's hugely influential commercial rights-holder has vowed to 'sort it out'.
HRT only narrowly made the starting grid this year after chief shareholder José Ramón Carabante bought out the ailing Campos Meta 1 outfit from the Spanish concern's eponymous founder Adrián Campos less than a month ahead of the curtain-raising Bahrain Grand Prix at Sakhir. There followed a mad dash to get ready – a race against time that the team won – but now it appears to be embroiled in another battle, that of staying afloat and merely even surviving.
“HRT have got problems,” Formula One Management (FOM) chief executive Ecclestone told The Daily Telegraph
. “I will sort it out. I'd like to see twelve teams finish the season, because they have made the commitment to come in. We might lose one of them, but I'm doing my bit to make sure it doesn't happen. That's why they call me the godfather.”
With HRT having managed no pre-season testing at all, rookie drivers Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok have generally lagged in the region of five-to-seven seconds adrift of the leading pace over the course of the opening five grands prix of the campaign – and fellow new teams Lotus and Virgin have scarcely fared a great deal better, as all three have struggled for pace and reliability.
There has been much concern in Monaco this weekend that the sheer speed discrepancies between the sport's fastest and slowest runners this year could create havoc around the tight, tortuous streets of the glamorous Principality, and BBC F1
pundit and 13-time grand prix-winner David Coulthard has advocated the need for 'quality, not quantity', writing in his regular column for The Daily Telegraph
: 'If teams are not competitive they will not stay on the grid for long anyway, as sponsorship is driven by results on-track.'
Such remarks, however, have been greeted with short shrift by F1 veteran and the Scot's erstwhile sparring partner Jarno Trulli, who contended that the establishment should have more patience with the new arrivals and be grateful for their presence rather than persistently running them down.
“Without us, it would have seemed that F1 had just a handful of teams,” the Lotus star – a former winner in Monaco – told Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat
. “I would be more cautious in asserting that we are not worthy of our place in F1.”