The beleaguered HRT F1 team finally got its 2012 car on track, as Narain Karthikeyan gave the new F112 its first laps at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona.
A day too late to join the final pre-season group test - the result of a failed FIA crash test - the Spanish team nevertheless kept its promise to give the car its debut during a 'filming day' at its home circuit, completing ten largely trouble-free laps in the hands of Indian Karthikeyan after a late start to the day.
"Today we made the first run of the F112 and I have been fortunate to be the first driver to test it," Karthikeyan confirmed, "My first impressions are good, definitely a big jump from last year.
"We could not work on the set-up but everything seems to work properly and there were no major problems. Everyone has worked very hard and the new management has put everything in place in a very short period of time. They have done a good job with the car and I am convinced it is a step forward."
The team reports that it worked around the clock once the car had passed the 18th and final crash test in order to get it from Munich to in Barcelona, creating a little landmark with its earliest unveiling in its short three-year history. Despite not being able to test against its rivals, HRT now hopes to make use of the promotional days available to all teams in order to get a handle on the F112 before heading to Melbourne for the opening grand prix.
While Karthikeyan took the controls, team-mate Pedro de la Rosa, recently confirmed test and reserve driver Dani Clos and, interestingly, ousted race pilot Tonio Liuzzi looked on, alongside Carlos Gracia, president of the Spanish Automobile Federation, and Salvaror Servia, director general of the Circuit de Catalunya.
"Today I am very satisfied and is a very important day for us because we have done some testing with the new car during this promotional time," team principal Luis Perez Sala concluded, "I am very proud of each and every one of the members of this team because all have contributed their bit to make this possible. Now we must focus on Australia because we still have much to do."