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de la Rosa 'key' to HRT turnaround

HRT team principal Luis Perez-Sala admits that he was taking on 'a lost cause' when he assumed the helm of 'Spain's team'.
HRT team principal Luis Perez-Sala believes that persuading Pedro de la Rosa to join the struggling backmarker was the biggest boost towards it becoming a credible member of the F1 field.

Speaking to Spain's El Pais, the former driver admitted that, when he first encountered HRT, he could not believe how disorganised and chaotic the set-up was under Colin Kolles, with various sections of the team scattered between Spain, Italy, Germany and the UK, and having little in the way of co-ordination. Kolles also owned everything, leasing it to the team and taking a cut of every penny that made its way into the operation. Having already changed hands from Adrian Campos to Jose Carabante, the team was again in financial straits, only to be rescued by Thesan Capital, who quickly installed Perez-Sala to oversee its bid for recovery.

The Spaniard, however, was horrified with what he first found.

"What I saw at Silverstone, I did not like - it was a f*cking disaster," the Spaniard admitted, "There was no organisation, no credibility, no home, no identity. Everything was outsourced, each engineer lived in a different place. They said it was a Spanish team, but there was nothing Spanish. There was the paradox already."

Despite his fears, however, Perez-Sala believed that the situation could be turned around with the right hand on the tiller and, along with Thesan's Saul Ruiz de Marcos, set about giving HRT the identity it lacked.

"I liked his idea of ​​a team that was a catalyst for business in our country," the former Minardi pilot revealed, admitting that an 'autopsy' was required on the two-year old squad before either man could put their plan into action, with every trace of Kolles' reign needing to be removed as part of the makeover. While many scoffed, plans to relocate the team in Valencia were canned in place of a move to Madrid's Caja Magica, which Perez-Sala and his cohorts have meticulously transformed from a multi-events venue into a fully-operational F1 base, but the transformation into a Spanish entity came much earlier than that.

"It was clear that Pedro had to be with us," he explained. "He was the key [because] he was Spanish, experienced and honest. He had been in F1 for more than ten years, knew everyone and knew how to develop a car with the engineers. He contributes a lot as a driver, but having him with us also helps us to develop with a plan, rather than just taking shots in the dark. The only problem was that HRT would only pay him half of what he was getting at McLaren."

While with one of the biggest teams in F1, de la Rosa wasn't racing and, despite having reservations of his own about HRT, the lure of competition once again overcame the security of a testing contract.

"HRT had been in F1 for two years and did not yet look like a serious project," the veteran admits, "I had been tempted to join the team before, but I had no trust in it. They had a bad structure that was difficult to change but, when I saw Luis was there, I thought again about it. I was happy at McLaren and did not know Thesan or Saul - or why they wanted to buy HRT, but there were some good arguments for joining - to race again with a Spanish team, Spanish managers, mechanics and engineers.... I liked the idea of being [based in Spain], not in England where the other teams are, and creating something different. It sounded good."

While HRT may have developed off-track its form in terms of results has shown little change since the new management took over, with occasional skirmishes with fellow backmarker Marussia the height of its achievement in 2012. Despite that, Ruiz de Marcos insists that the team can be a viable proposition in as little as three years.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Ma Qing Hua (CHN) Hispania Racing F1 Team (HRT) Test Driver.  12.07.2012. Formula One Young Drivers Test, Day 1, Silverstone, England.
Ma Qing Hua (CHN) Hispania Racing F1 Team (HRT) F112 Test Driver.  12.07.2012. Formula One Young Drivers Test, Day 1, Silverstone, England.
27.07.2012- Free Practice 1, Dani Clos (ESP), Test driver, HRT Formula 1 Team F112
20.07.2012 - - Free Practice 1, Pedro de la Rosa (ESP) HRT Formula 1 Team F112
09.06.2012- Qualifying, Luiz Pérez Sala, HRT
24.05.2012- Free Practice 2, Pedro de la Rosa (ESP) HRT Formula 1 Team F112
10.05.2012- HRT
28.05.2017 - Race, Adriana Lima (BRA) Model and Carmen Jorda (ESP) Renault Sport Formula One Team Development Driver
Maria de la Rosa (ESP) at the Amber Lounge Fashion Show.
Maria de la Rosa (ESP) at the Amber Lounge Fashion Show.
16.04.2017 - Race, Marco Tronchetti Provera (ITA), Pirelli`s President
16.04.2017 - Race, Marco Tronchetti Provera (ITA), Pirelli`s President
16.04.2017 - Race, Afef Jnifen (TUN), wife of Marco Tronchetti Provera (ITA), CEO and Executive Vice Chairman of Pirelli
16.04.2017 - Race, Marco Tronchetti Provera (ITA), Pirelli`s President and his wife Afef Jnifen (TUN)
16.04.2017 - Race, Marco Tronchetti Provera (ITA), Pirelli`s President
16.04.2017 - Race, Afef Jnifen (TUN), wife of Marco Tronchetti Provera (ITA), CEO and Executive Vice Chairman of Pirelli and Naomi Campbell (GBR)
13.04.2017 - Luis Garcia Abad (ESP), manager of Fernando Alonso (ESP) and Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren MCL32
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jose - Unregistered

August 08, 2012 12:48 PM

Ok, so HRT is at the bottom of the grid, but the game is not over. Easy to criticize, make silly jokes, and point nasty fingers. That Bible fable of David and Goliath dos not really fit here Crash. HRT is on the grid legally with very limited resources ($). A monstrous up hill fight it has been so far. Given time I think HRT will slowly move up the grid. Starting at the bottom is not necessarily a bad thing. One need not resort to Fuzzy Taipan logic to under difficulty of racing competitively in F1. Time will tell, Jose

saffa - Unregistered

August 09, 2012 7:54 PM

HRT should be given a chance. The stone is still being wound up in the sling before the release that's where I see the new management has the team in. It only makes sense to have Narain to bring in Indian millions and Pedro to help develop the car. It makes no sense to have a top skillful driver when they not gonna challenge for anything but rather get iff the bottom step of the ladder. I think they making progress in the right direction.

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