Hispania Racing successfully did enough to qualify for the F1 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix today, much to the delight of team boss, Colin Kolles and everyone connected to the little Spanish team.
Despite a few mechanical problems this morning in final practice, Vitantonio Liuzzi and Narain Karthikeyan were easily inside the 107 per cent cut-off point, a big relief after neither were able to start the season opener in Australia two weeks ago. Liuzzi was especially good, finishing Q1 a second up on his team-mate, and only half a second off the Virgin of Jerome D'Ambrosio in 22nd.
“It's great for everyone that we were well under 107 per cent,” said Liuzzi. “We've proved that in Australia the problem wasn't a matter of pace but a matter of time out on the track, we had half a day of testing compared to the three months other teams did. You can't just gain mileage out of nothing. Now we have to work hard in the following months, in the next races to try and close the gap.
“This is just the first step for Hispania Racing, we've done a great job and we've improved the car a lot from Australia to now.
“I'm proud of the work done by everybody, starting with when they got the car on the ground in Australia and now having got it in good condition here in Sepang. We had a few minor issues both yesterday and today but that is normal when you're working with such little time.
“I think we can still improve, I did a good lap and this is the result: we will be on the grid tomorrow.”
Karthikeyan was similarly pleased: “We made it through qualifying which was our aim for today. The car is virtually brand new so it's good to get some more mileage done, the more time we can get out on the track the better.
“We marked Sepang on the calendar beforehand as one of the toughest circuits to get under the 107 per cent time so it's a great satisfaction to have done it. Now I hope to finish tomorrow's race and get a lot more laps under my belt with the new car.”
Kolles meanwhile has said that the squad's next aim is to finish the race: “Both drivers did a good job out there today, Tonio set a very good baseline. Now we have set a base from which to work from in the future,” he added.
“Once more, I would like to thank the whole team for their massive effort. Now we have our next target in mind though which is to keep doing laps and finish tomorrow's race.”