HRT team principal Luis Perez Sala admitted that he was left dissatisfied with the squad's performance at the first of two home races, after problems in the pits led to Narain Karthikeyan's miserable weekend ending with a DNF.
Although the previously Valencia-based team may consider the Grand Prix of Europe its true 'home' race, the Spanish round in Barcelona remains a key stop on its schedule, and Sala was hoping to continue building on recent results by getting both cars to the chequered flag.
He may be considered fortunate to have two cars in the race at all, after Karthikeyan was left with a mountain to climb in qualifying after missing most of Friday afternoon's practice session, but a successful appeal against exclusion under the 107 per cent rule saw the Indian line up alongside Lewis Hamilton on Sunday afternoon. However, while Catalan veteran Pedro de la Rosa completed the race with four pit-stops, and managed to overcome adversity to cross the line in a seasons-best 19th place, Karthikeyan's afternoon was cut short as the result of a problem with a screw during his second stop.
"Once more we proved a good reliability which enabled Pedro to finish the Spanish Grand Prix in front of our home crowd," Sala reflected, "It's a very special grand prix and, for that reason, we would have liked to have finished the race with not one, but both cars. Unfortunately, this was not the case because of a problem with Narain's second tyre change.
"These things can happen when you take it to the limit, and to any team, and more so when you're in a learning process as we are. But, in this case, after an uphill weekend, it leaves me with an especially bad taste in my mouth to have not finished the job off. It was a really tough race, with the tyres degrading a huge amount and that's why we had to go for a four-stop strategy. But, despite the fact that we have a lot to improve, we're satisfied with Pedro's result, which is the best we've achieved this season thus far."
For Karthikeyan, the weekend could not end soon enough after his retirement.
"I had some trouble at the start with a little bit too much wheelspin, but it didn't affect me too much and, by the first turn, I was already back up behind Pedro," he reported, "It was the first time I'd driven on heavy fuel this weekend so, with the first set of tyres, my objective was to get used to them. On the second set, I had a really good stint and was catching Pedro as we came in for the pit-stop to switch to hard tyres. That's when my bad luck continued... I hope to leave it behind in Spain and have a fresh start in Monaco.”
For de la Rosa, meanwhile, taking the chequered flag was something of a novelty, not just with HRT but on home soil.
"Racing in front of your home crowd is fantastic and so is finishing the race," he smiled, "I'm very happy because it's only the second home grand prix of my career that I have finished, so I'm really satisfied about that.
"The race was harder than we anticipated. We did a four-stop strategy and we finished near the limit because the tyres were degrading a lot. The first 20 laps were complicated. The softs literally disintegrated, but the hards went much better and we were able to maintain a better rhythm which enabled us to finish in our best position so far this season in front of our fans.
"It's true that it's a discrete position, but we gave it our all and we did what we could. We were ahead of the Marussias on some laps and behind on others, but our rhythm, in general, wasn't bad. We know that we must continue to improve, but we're on the right line.”