HRT will start the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona with both their drivers on the starting grid of the Circuit de Catalunya, after Narain Karthikeyan was given special dispensation to join the race despite failing to meet the 107% time requirements in Q1.

Karthikeyan's best laptime in Q1 was 1:31.122s after just four laps of running, almost 3s outside the 107% time, over 3.5s slower than his team mate Pedro de la Rosa, the next-slowest driver in the session - and 8.5s off the top time laid down by Lewis Hamilton in the McLaren.

"It seems like my bad luck continues to follow me this weekend," said Karthikeyan. "Although I'm disappointed about that, there's nothing else I can do but keep giving it my best shot."

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HRT successfully appealed to the race stewards and argued that Karthikeyan's time in Q1 wasn't representative of his true pace that he had shown in the earlier Saturday morning final practice session.

"With the first set of tyres I was pushing really hard and spun on turn 3 and, as a result, I flat-spotted a tyre so I had to come back in to the garage," explained Karthikeyan. "We were going to go on the second set of tyres but we discovered some problems and due to safety concerns, not only for myself but the others, we decided that the best thing was to not go back out."

"He wasn't able to get in the 107% but I'm confident that, given the performance he showed this morning, there won't be any trouble for him to start tomorrow's race," the team's technical director Toni Cuquerella correctly forecast immediately soon after the session ended.

At least Karthikeyan's team mate Pedro de La Rosa was in a brighter mood with the day's proceedings.

"The day went very well, especially this afternoon, so I'm very happy with what we achieved," said de la Rosa. "We completed two very good laps in qualifying, getting under the 1.28 mark which we hadn't achieved neither yesterday nor this morning."

He added: "I know that our position seems the same as always but, in terms of performance, we have progressed and that's what I'll take away with me."