12 May 2012
Karthikeyan frustrated by HRT problems
Narain Karthikeyan admits Friday problems in Barcelona just another frustration in second spell with HRT.
Having sat out the morning practice session in favour of another driver, and then been able to do just two laps in the afternoon, Narain Karthikeyan's emotions finally got the better of him in Barcelona.
The Indian was forced to look on as reserve driver Dani Clos was given the chance to make his free practice debut in front of his home crowd, but then had to wait further as the HRT mechanics attempted to fix the electrical problem that sidelined the Catalan favourite before the end of his 90 minutes. The repair dragged on through lunch and into the afternoon session, leaving Karthikeyan to kick his heels in the garage until well after the first cars had ventured out.
To make matters worse, once he finally got the signal to join the fray, the Indian managed just an installation and out-lap before the car ground to a halt just two corners into his first timed effort.
"It wasn't a good day for whatever reason and for no fault of my own - it's just a shame," Karthikeyan told Reuters, "If I say I am not frustrated, it's a lie. Of course you are frustrated as a driver."
Without any decent track time under his belt, the F1 returnee will have just an hour's practice on Saturday morning - assuming the car holds together - to get on top of the set-up for the Circuit de Catalunya before qualifying. It is unlikely that he would have qualified anywhere other than the back row but, amid rumours that he still needs to find the budget to ensure that he can fend the likes of Clos off for the entire season, being able to match team-mate Pedro de la Rosa becomes essential.
"At this end of the grid, you need to be close to, or beat, your team-mate," he insisted, "You are gauged against that and it just becomes so much harder for tomorrow. It's not impossible, but it's very hard."
Adding to Karthikeyan's pain was the belief that HRT had not joined its rivals at the recent Mugello group test in order to prepare the cars for Barcelona at its new Madrid headquarters. While missing the test meant that any upgrades being planned for its home race would have to be debuted in practice, the Indian at least hoped that the car would be reliable.
"One of the reasons [HRT did not test] was to put the car together nicely and that's why we didn't go [to Mugello]," Karthikeyan confirmed, "The other reason was the upgrades, but they have come only today. From Australia, it's been one [thing] after another and the positives get covered [over] a little bit. The negatives seem to be magnified a little bit too much for what it's worth."
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