Luis Perez-Sala insists that he is satisfied with the way his first eight months in the role of team principal at HRT have gone, despite the Spanish team still being firmly rooted to the back of the F1 grid.
The former Minardi driver was a somewhat surprising nomination for the job after Thesan Capital acquired the team from Jose Carabante midway through 2011, and admits that he was horrified with what he saw when he first attended a race [see story here
], but has systematically set about reviewing every element of the operation in a bid to make it a credible member of the F1 fraternity.
Having lured Pedro de la Rosa
away from a comfortable position as McLaren
test driver to be the first part of a Spanish makeover of the squad, Perez-Sala has since overseen a move to Madrid's iconic Caja Magica, which replaced Valencia as the team's new base and pulled together a previously disparate operation that had been scattered across Europe under Colin Kolles' stewardship. Unsurprisingly, the Spaniard feels content with what he has achieved.
"My assessment couldn't be more positive," he emphasised, "Our start to the season was complicated. As we've already said on multiple occasions, we've almost changed the entire team, we've moved to a new headquarters, where we've been based since early April, and all of this whilst we built a new car.
"It was a very ambitious challenge, but we've made it with very limited resources. Once we settled in, from April and May onwards, we started to get a race rhythm going. It's safe to say we've encountered some very intense months where the team has given its all, because we've been able to carry out everything we set out to do. I came with an open mind and ready to tackle anything that was thrown at me, [and] we have accomplished the targets we set ourselves, which were none other than to carry out the great structural change which we've done and start to have the necessary stability to be able to grow.
"This is a target that seems modest but it has implied a radical change. Towards the end of 2011, the decision was made to move the headquarters to Spain, create a new car and have an initial standard that would enable us to be within the 107 per cent comfortably, to then grow from there. And we have achieved all of that, so we can say that we've accomplished our objectives. Now we must set ourselves new ones."
Despite operating on a smaller budget than its rivals, even those with which it is directly competing - a recent report claimed that HRT's financial clout was only 50 per cent that of fellow 2010 start-up Caterham - Perez-Sala still has ambitions for his team, although he is aware that growth can only happen gradually.
"From here, the most important and complicated challenge is to continue growing in the right direction, optimising our resources, and getting the car to perform better," he revealed, "This is the hardest thing because, whilst other teams have a consolidated structure, we're still in a transition period. In that sense, they've also got an advantage over us.
"Because we have limited human and economic resources, that means that the upgrade plan has to be very clear and whatever we introduce will result in an important difference. It really has to represent a step forwards. The most complicated thing now is to not be dropped off by the other teams whilst we finish defining our own team and evolve and prepare the future."