25 April 2012
HRT to skip Mugello group test
Struggling HRT has announced that it will not take part in next month's F1 group test at Mugello.
While its rivals are carefully deciding which drivers they should run in next month's final F1 group test at Mugello, Spanish backmarker HRT has opted to skip the session altogether.
In a somewhat surprising move given its position at the tail of the field, the team has chosen to throw all its energies into completing its relocation to Madrid's Caja Magica, which the owners hope will finally bring the disparate sections of the operation together under one roof after two seasons of trying to juggle various bases.
“With the first four overseas grands prix completed, the cars return to Europe for the first time since they left for the inaugural event and the team is now completely focused on relocating to its new headquarters at the Caja Mágica, in Madrid,” an official HRT statement confirmed.
“The importance of this relocation, added to the fact that the upgrade package for the F112 is programmed for the Spanish Grand Prix, means that the team prefers to focus its efforts and resources on the new headquarters, work on the car and properly preparing for the Spanish Grand Prix.”
Missing the test means that the upgrade will not be evaluated 'in the flesh' until HRT arrives at its home grand prix, but team principal Luis Pérez-Sala insists that the decision is in the team's best interests.
"The start to the season was a little bit rushed for us and, since the cars were set up for the first time, we have been working on them at the grands prix,” he pointed out, “The team and the material have just got back from Bahrain after leaving for Australia in early March - and they return, for the first time, to the team's new headquarters at the Caja Mágica in Madrid.
“This move is very important for us and, by not going to Mugello, we can work thoroughly on the car to prepare for the Spanish Grand Prix. We won't have the new upgrade package until then, so we've preferred to focus on what can contribute more to us, which is teamwork at the headquarters. And there is a lot to do.”
HRT's absence means that just eleven teams will be present in Tuscany when the test kicks off on 1 May. The Spanish team completed just two days of running at a 'promotional event' prior to the Australian Grand Prix, having missed each of the three group tests, and unsurprisingly, failed to qualify for the season-opener. Since then, however, both Pedro de la Rosa – acknowledged as one of the best test and development drivers in the business – and Narain Karthikeyan have been making steady improvements, with the Spaniard able to capitalise on problems for Marussia's Timo Glock and out-qualify the German in Bahrain.
Missing the test, however, removes another opportunity for reserve Dani Clos and recently appointed development programme driver Ma Qing Hua to get behind the wheel of the F112, while the likes of Rodolfo Gonzalez, Oliver Turvey and Jerome d'Ambrosio get the chance to run with Caterham, McLaren and Lotus.
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