Narain Karthikeyan believes that HRT now 'belongs' at the pinnacle of the sport - and that Spanish-outfit is now working like a proper F1 team.

Although HRT again missed pre-season testing and failed to qualify for the opening race in Australia, Karthikeyan is adamant the squad is making progress following the takeover twelve months ago by Spanish venture capital firm Thesan Capital.

Indeed he reckons the teams pace in qualifying is proof they are getting better race-by-race.

"We have come a long way since the disappointing season-opener. It was a low point as I never thought I would be a spectator in Melbourne. But I never regretted the decision to continue with HRT. The team used to work like a GP2 outfit, but a change in the management has showed that they belong to F1," Karthikeyan told India's Deccan Chronicle.

"The car has improved a lot compared to last year's, to be precise two seconds faster. It's much more reliable. In the last few races we have proved that our car is quick in qualifying but we haven't yet shown it in a race situation."

Karthikeyan is hopeful, however, that the second half of the season will be more fruitful: "There are exciting times ahead as the team is working on several upgrades," he explained. "Mechanically the car looks fine now; so the team's focus is on bringing more changes in the aerodynamics when the season resumes after a month-long break at Belgian GP in the first week of September. We are expecting to run a lot more closer to Marussia. I am excited about the upgrades especially with the Indian GP scheduled for the second half of the season."

As for the coming weekend in Germany, Karthikeyan is keen to keep battling with the Marussias of Timo Glock and Charles Pic.

"It will be my first outing at Hockenheim's new circuit which is quite different to the old one. It used to be quick but now it is slower and a high-downforce track, it is also quite short, not too complicated and very stop-and-go. We have been working on improving our race pace and this weekend we are aiming to give our main rivals [Marussia] a fight throughout," he continued.

Team-mate Pedro de la Rosa meanwhile is also looking forward to the German GP and is hoping HRT can take 'things one step further'.

"Hockenheim is a circuit which is a little bit more favourable for us than Silverstone because it's made up almost entirely of slow corners, except for the first one which is quick," he said. "We haven't brought any upgrades to this track so we'll try to get the most out of the car with the different options at our disposal.

"In England we anticipated a tough weekend and we performed better than expected, which is positive. In Germany we will work to continue in this manner and try to take things one step further."

HRT boss Luis Perez-Sala added: "We left Silverstone satisfied because we finished with both cars once more, proving a good reliability, and we performed better than expected. The F112 adapts better to the characteristics of the new Hockenheim and our objective for this Grand Prix is to maintain our competitiveness and reliability so that we can continue to advance with the consolidation of the team. Something that, step by step, I believe we're achieving."


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