The beleaguered Hispania Racing team has agreed a deal to use one of Mercedes GP Petronas' two windtunnel facilities in a bid to get its new F111 up to speed.
The Spanish outfit missed the qualifying cut at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, having hardly run in free practice, and did not complete a single testing lap with its new car for the second year in succession. While the team's actions have attracted critics by the score, principal Colin Kolles insists that it is a deserving member of the F1 fraternity, while drivers Narain Karthikeyan and Tonio Liuzzi believe that they will make the race in Malaysia this weekend.
While the problem to date, according to the team, has been a lack of parts - or having them held up 'in customs' - the deal to use Mercedes' redundant Brackley windtunnel should help to speed the development of those that do make it onto the car. Last year's F110 hardly changed throughout the season, despite venues as diverse as Monaco and Monza, but the team is hopeful that it can produce upgrades for the F111 as the season progresses.
F1 scribe Joe Saward broke the news of the windtunnel deal, confirming that Mercedes was unable to use both of its facilities due to the current Resources Restriction Agreement, and reports that, quite apart from the new nose on the F111 at Sepang this weekend, there are plans for other new bits destined to appear at the Chinese GP next week.
The nose brought to Malaysia is the part that had yet to pass the mandatory FIA crash test in time for Melbourne – but has since done so – and will form part of a new front wing assembly that the team hopes will bring it closer to fellow 2010 newcomers Lotus and Virgin and, as a result, into the race on Sunday.
Kolles, however, admits that he remains unsure of how much difference the new parts will make, and it has to be said that, if HRT is using the windtunnel that Mercedes has set aside, it isn't going to help much as presumably the German giant is using the better of the two it owns and is still struggling to produce a competitive car.
“In Australia, we just did the roll-out in qualifying,” Kolles told Adam Cooper's F1 blog at Kuala Lumpur airport, “The drivers were looking in their mirrors for quicker cars, but everything worked, including the moveable rear wing.”