Hispania Racing team principal Dr Colin Kolles insists that the Spanish rookies are gradually getting to grips with life in Formula One after a difficult birth and early races, and believes it can close the gap to its immediate rivals as the season wears on.
HRT failed to get a car to the finish in the Turkish Grand Prix, with Karun Chandhok classified six laps down after problems, but Kolles is optimistic that the squad is picking up pace and, having severed ties with chassis builder Dallara, can now maintain its own development programme with an eye to homing in on fellow newcomers Virgin and Lotus.
"The team's first objective was to arrive in Bahrain, which was a tough start," he said, reflecting on the change of ownership that saw the team morph from Campos Meta1 into HRT and only unveil its car on the eve of the opening round, "Since then, we have been trying to stabilise the team and to reach a more normal way of working. We are making progress in all areas, which is positive.
"We now have the car's progress in our hands and we have our own development programme. We will have some updates on the current car [but], for 2010, we have to take a rather pragmatic approach. Regarding the 2011 development programme, we will have an announcement very soon."
The rumour mill has suggested that HRT, now with former BAR and Red Bull
man Geoff Willis heading up its development programme, is eyeing the still-born 2010 Toyota
chassis, but Kolles is confident that the next couple of races may allow its current machine to show better than of late.
"We expect a similar performance, if not better," the Romanian commented after seeing both Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok battling for position with other teams in Turkey, "I think the car characteristics will fit better to circuits like Canada and Valencia, so we should get closer."
Senna again failed to see the chequered flag at Istanbul Park, his fifth DNF in seven races, but Chandhok soldiered on towards the finish before pitting once he had completed enough distance to be classified. The same whispers, however, continued to suggest that one or both drivers may find their position under threat as the team attempts to improve, with Sakon Yamamoto
and Christian Klien
having run in the Friday morning practice sessions at recent races.
"I think both did a good job giving additional feedback to our engineers, [but] Karun and Bruno are very talented young drivers who have developed well in the first races," Kolles insisted, "Bruno had quite a good qualifying and race in Istanbul, and Karun a good race in Monaco. Unfortunately, Bruno has been stopped by a fuel pick-up problem and Karun by a race incident, [denying them] a good result in these races. However, I am confident and looking forward to Bruno and Karun doing a good job in the coming races, which will improve the overall performance of the team."