Narain Karthikeyan says he is confident that Hispania Racing won't have any problems in qualifying for the opening round of the new F1 season in Australia, despite the fact that the new F111 won't have turned a wheel prior to opening practice at Albert Park.
The first run for the car in pre-season testing in Barcelona had to be canned when the dampers were stuck in customs, which means the Spanish team finds itself in the same position as last year – when its car only hit the track for the first time in Bahrain.
One issue facing the team this season is a reintroduction of the 107 per cent qualifying rule, which will rule out any car that fails to lap within 107 per cent of the quickest time, but Karthikeyan said he wasn't worried about not being able to take part in the race.
“This year there will be less downforce as we won't have a double diffuser, so the car will be faster in a straight line,” he told the Hindustan Times
. “Based on the 107 per cent rule, we have to be within 5.8 seconds of the pole time in Melbourne, which I think we are pretty capable of doing.
“All I can say is that there are a lot of clever people here. Geoff Willis is a capable designer. A lot depends on what kind of car we get during the year. I am confident of the packages that we have in the pipeline.”
Karthikeyan however refused to be drawn on his the season will pan out for Hispania and insisted that Australian wasn't the ideal circuit to get a good idea about the competitiveness of the new car.
“I am with a team that has a decent car that has not been driven yet, so I can't predict how the season will go,” he said. “Australia won't tell the complete story as it is a simple track. Unlike Sepang for example, which will be a real indication.”