Colin Kolles has asserted that F1 2011 tailender Hispania Racing 'should be well-prepared for strong performances' over the remainder of the campaign, as the team targets consolidation, further improvements – and tenth position in the constructors' world championship.
Having failed – for the second season in succession – to turn a wheel prior to the opening of competitive hostilities, Hispania has gradually picked itself up from its shambolic start to proceedings this year to take the fight to, and on occasion get the better of fellow newcomers Virgin and even Team Lotus.
A gritty and well-earned 13th position for Vitantonio Liuzzi in the tumultuous Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal in June lifted HRT above Virgin into eleventh spot in the constructors' table, and the arrival of Daniel Ricciardo alongside the Italian – in-place of Narain Karthikeyan, who nonetheless remains a part of the team – has given the Spanish outfit a blend of youth, talent and experience on the driving strength.
Add into the mix new owners in the shape of investment group Thesan Capital – a development that Kolles contends has injected 'increased confidence' into the squad, hitherto beset by financial difficulties – and it is all beginning to fall into place for a slow-but-steady progression up the grid.
“Our team has made improvements during the course of this season,” the German reflected, “and we want to continue to fight hard to reduce the gap to the midfield. Canada was our best race so far, where we scored the best result in our team's history – it was a great race with a positive ending. We made a step forward in terms of performance and in championship position. The whole team has been working very hard, and it was a deserved result. The drivers did a very good job, driving more aggressively than ever in very difficult conditions.
“We will have to improve further and target tenth position in the championship. We have been working on updates for the upcoming grands prix at Spa and Monza, which require different aerodynamic configurations from the previous ones. The car's set-up must reflect the need to perform with complete stability in the very fast and medium-speed corners, while also having the mechanical traction to deal with the slower corners.
“The weather is often hard to predict, too, but we should be well-prepared for strong performances. Some tracks like Hungary are notoriously more difficult given the conditions, which tend to be windy, and the fact that it is a track on which overtaking is a problem – but tyre-management is always a key factor, as well as timing your pit-stops and tyre decisions perfectly. There are many challenges every day.”
Kolles went on to praise the roles played by Messrs. Liuzzi, Ricciardo and Karthikeyan in helping HRT to tackle and overcome those challenges in the team's sophomore campaign of top flight competition, as well as in contributing to the evolution of the Cosworth-powered F111.
“Narain has the widest experience of different categories, which is very useful,” he mused. “Vitantonio is our experienced driver who will compete in his 74th F1 grand prix at Spa. He is a really good fighter behind the wheel, with a passionate temperament. Daniel is the youngest and a very talented rookie who shows that he is a fast learner. He needs to develop, and is on the right trajectory in that regard.
“It's always difficult to fully evaluate a newcomer. Daniel arrives with a strong background of 55 podiums in his short career, which is very promising. He received an unusual and nice birthday gift on 1 July and was able to make it to his first F1 grand prix drive.
“Three races later, Daniel will start his fourth grand prix at Spa, and is gaining very valuable knowledge and experience with every lap he completes behind the wheel. Sometimes young drivers don't know what to expect, but we are working closely with him to build his experience and confidence in the car.”