14 November 2010
HRT to announce Toyota deal imminently
Hispania Racing appears set to announce a deal to run Toyota's stillborn TF110 next season.
The beleaguered Hispania Racing team appears poised to receive a second significant boost to its 2011 ambitions with reports that it will conclude negotiations with Toyota Motorsport to use its stillborn 2010 car next season.
The Spanish outfit, mired at the back of the grid in its maiden campaign amid a lack of technical updates, has already secured a supply of gearboxes from Williams and announced a new investor in former Telefonica CEO Juan Villalonga, dismissing rumours that it may not even survive into a second year.
According to Spanish newspaper Marca, HRT will officially announce the Toyota deal on Monday [15 November], an agreement that would give it access to the TF110 chassis that would have the Cologne-based operation's challenger this year, as well as two windtunnels and over 100 staff. Leaked comments from within Cologne suggest that the TF110 could have been Toyota's most potent creation, but had the plug pulled on it at the end of 2009 when Toyota decided to follow Honda out of the sport.
The car has, of course, already been pressed into action as a neutral test hack for the Pirelli tyre programme, and one of the men involved in the development of next year's rubber, Pedro de la Rosa, has been rumoured as a contender for one of the two seats on offer in 2011. The Spaniard, who would be a natural fit with the team's sponsors, is reported to be considering a switch to the US Indycar scene, however. HRT will continue to employ Cosworth engines in the back of the 2011 car.
Christian Klien, who has ended the season alongside Bruno Senna in the current Dallara-designed car, insists that his handful of appearances have served him well in his bid to return full-time in 2011, and lists HRT among potential destinations.
"At the end, they've relied more on experienced drivers," the former Jaguar and Red Bull driver told Austria's APA news agency, "It shows that the team is performance-oriented and, for me, I think it's a positive sign that, for next year, things will go in the right direction.
"These two races at the end of the season are definitely a positive signal and, after this race, we will have some further discussions. At Virgin, there is a place available, and possibly two at HRT although, today, in the private teams, it is almost a must to bring money."
As if to confirm Klien's belief that his cause would be aided by finding a backer, Finland's Turun Sanomat reports that HRT is selling a seat at next week's 'young driver' test for €200,000. Recently-crowned GP2 champion Pastor Maldonado has already been confirmed for one day thanks to backing from Venezuelan petroleum giant PDVSA, and is likely to run three of the four days on offer in the next couple of weeks, but the opportunity is there for an F1 hopeful to make a bid.
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