Hispania Racing team boss Colin Kolles says he is confident that the second year team will take a step forwards when the new F111 hits the track for the first time at this weekend's F1 season opener in Australia.
The team has been unable to do any testing with the new car after a parts delay led to a day of running at Catalunya being shelved – although poor weather conditions would have restricted any time spent on track anyway.
Despite the fact that the team therefore heads to Albert Park on the back foot, especially considering the return of the 107 per cent qualifying rule, Kolles said he was confident of a step forward for the Spanish outfit and was hopeful that there will be no surprises when the action gets underway with Friday practice.
“Albert Park is one of my favourite venues on the calendar,” he said. “We will run our new car for the first time on Friday and hopefully there won't be too many surprises. We are confident that our package is better, quicker and more reliable than last year's. We have definitely taken a step forward.”
Like a number of teams, Hispania will show support for victims of the Japanese earthquake during the race weekend with the Japanese flag appearing on the cars of both Narain Karthikeyan and Tonio Liuzzi.
Hispania has links with the Japanese people having fielded a car for Sakon Yamamoto for part of the 2010 season.
“What has happened in Japan is terrible,” Kolles added. “I would like to express that I was very shocked with what occurred. Japan is one of my favourite countries and I have a huge amount of respect for Japanese people and their culture. I am sure they will overcome this terrible situation.”