Newly appointed HRT team principal Luis Perez-Sala admits that the Spanish outfit is taking 'one step backwards to take forwards' as it prepares to continue its restructuring over the F1 off-season.
The team, which was taken over during 2011 by Thesan Capital, appointed the former Minardi driver as team principal last week to replace Colin Kolles, who left his role as the new owners prepare to move the core of the team from his establishment in Germany onto Spanish soil.
Work is underway at Kolles' base on the 2012 car while Pedro de la Rosa is signed as the first driver for the new season as HRT plots for the future, although Perez-Sala admitted that the 'huge' nature of the task ahead would lead to struggles in the short-term.
“The task ahead of us, with the design of the car and change of headquarters, is huge,” he said. “Formula 1 is very complicated and implies a lot of preparation work as it so, in this respect, HRT is a little bit behind other teams. We will feel the effects of this transformation the team is going through and will have “pay” for it at the start of the season. We're not going to be at the same level as when we finished this past season, where the same team had been running for two years, but we're aware of that. We're taking a step back so that we can take two forward. 2012 will be an important year for us to settle and face a more natural and stable situation in 2013.
“In the short term the main objective is to consolidate the project. Create a strong team in Spain that works, with the technical area in Munich. And of course to have the 2012 car ready for the start of the season to be able to take part in the first race and all the preseason tests that we can. In the medium term we intend to improve the car and get closer to our rivals than last year. To see which are our strengths and weaknesses and work on them to improve at every grand prix. In the long run, with a better car and a solid structure, we will think about the strategy for 2013 and, above all, 2014 when there will be major changes to regulations.”
Currently, de la Rosa is the only driver signed with HRT for the 2012 campaign, and Perez-Sala admitted that finding a team-mate for the former McLaren test driver wasn't a high priority.
“We are in advanced talks with several drivers but we can't anticipate anything yet,” he said. “It's a decision we surely won't make until the start of next year because, at this stage, who will be the team's second driver for next season is perhaps the least urgent one right now.”