The break between the 2011 season finale at Interlagos and the opening pre-season test at Jerez may have been one of the shortest in F1 history, but the HRT team managed to pack in more than a little turbulence as it attempts to sort itself ahead of a third season in the top flight.
Having been taken over by Thesan Capital midway through last year, the German-based Spanish minnow has parted company with both the drivers that ended the '11 season, as well as team principal Colin Kolles and technical director Jacky Eeckelaert, and relocated from Cologne to Valencia. Unsurprisingly, the amount of upheaval has meant that the team turned up at this week's Jerez test without its 2012 car, preferring instead to run new signing Pedro de la Rosa in a version of last year's machine while the new one undergoes the mandatory crash test.
As a result, the team is viewing the first few days of testing as a chance to get the technical team, which has effectively been renewed in its entirety, and the new equipment and systems a first taste of the action. The track time is also important for de la Rosa as he aims to regain a feel for an F1 car, having been out of the cockpit since a one-off appearance for Sauber in Canada last year.
The opening day focused mainly on optimising the car's balance with the different tyres that Pirelli has for 2012, and progressed with no major issues, leaving both team and driver with the sense of a job well done after de la Rosa completed a total of 44 laps.
“I really enjoyed myself today, to be honest," the Spaniard reported, "I have to admit that I was a little bit nervous at the beginning of the day, because I barely knew anyone in the team or the car itself, but I'm very satisfied with how it went.
"Today, the main thing was to do some mileage, not try things out, simply to get to know each other and I think the team did a great job. I felt very well surrounded, both by the mechanics and the engineers who worked with me. They all did a fantastic job. I want to insist on the work everyone did today because we were all new to the team. I think the sensations were positive for everyone.”
For new team principal Luis Pérez-Sala the test represented a chance to kick off the 2012 campaign in a positive way, while the team awaits news on the impending crash test, scheduled to take place while de la Rosa was on track today [Wednesday].
“We've gone through a couple of months of intense work and it was very important for everyone to be here and get things going on the track," Sala commented, "I must say that I am very proud of the job done by everybody to achieve this. A large amount of the team and the materials are new, so we needed to put these into practice. Everything went well, with no relevant problems, and we've taken another step, albeit a small one, in the right direction - which is what matters right now.”
If the F112 passes its crash test, HRT expects to have it out on track for the second test of the season, at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya, later this month. It has not been decided who will drive the car as yet, but the team now has two drivers eager for track time, having re-signed Narain Karthikeyan last week.