HRT pair Pedro de la Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan will hope to kick-start their F1 campaigns this weekend in Malaysia after both drivers failed to qualify for the season opener in Australia.
With the new F112 having only just made it to Albert Park in time for the opening round, the team failed to qualify for the second straight season – with de la Rosa and Karthikeyan completing only limited mileage and failing to set a time within 107% of the quickest time in Q1.
While the Sepang circuit is regarded as one of the more challenging on the calendar, HRT goes into the weekend in optimistic mood, with de la Rosa insisting that extra time on track would be key to his hopes of making the race.
"Our two main priorities for Malaysia are to have DRS and improve the power steering in this short time that we have whilst being away from Europe,” he said. “In Australia we were only able to complete seven timed laps so I need get more track time, get to know the car better and improve the set-up. If we can achieve this then we could have a good Grand Prix.
“Sepang is probably the toughest track of the year both for car and driver. Mechanically it's very demanding because besides there being a lot of consecutive high-speed corners it is very hot and humid. Cooling is key for the car as is hydration for the driver.”
Karthikeyan agreed that making the most of practice was vital if the team wanted to be in a position to take the start of the race.
"It wasn't an easy first weekend for us in Melbourne but the team is working hard and we hope to complete the maximum amount of kilometres with the new car so that we can have it in prime conditions for qualifying and the race,” he said. “The team is working on solving the reliability issues that we encountered, so I'm confident that things will go better in Malaysia.
“Sepang is a circuit that I like a lot and a place where I have raced numerous times. This was the only Grand Prix out of the eight that I took part in last year that I didn't finish, so this year I'm looking to firstly qualify and then finish the race, that is the main objective.”