F1 backmarker HRT has revealed that it is planning to use the set-up that served it well at the Canadian Grand Prix when the F1 season resumes in Belgium's Ardennes next weekend.
Although it failed to achieve a finish at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, where both Narain Karthikeyan and Pedro de la Rosa
stopped with brake problems, the Spanish minnow surprised with its pace in practice, qualifying and the early part of the race, with de la Rosa starting ahead of both Marussias on merit after lapping half a second quicker than Timo Glock. Since then, HRT has slipped back behind its main rival in terms of performance, but both drivers appear quietly confident that the Montreal set-up can help close the gap on the sweeps of Spa-Francorchamps.
"We're going to use the same medium downforce that worked so well in Canada, so we hope to perform well despite the large amount of high speed corners," de la Rosa confirmed, "Spa is one of the drivers' favourite tracks - it's spectacular and difficult, not only because of the type of corners, but also because of the weather, so you have to be able to adapt quickly. We've all returned full of energy from the holidays and I personally arrive in my best physical condition of the season and really looking forward to taking on the second half of the championship.”
Like most of its rivals, the summer break will have helped HRT regain strength as it prepares to face a very intense culmination to the championship and, while reserve driver Dani Clos will replace him in the opening free practice session, Karthikeyan is looking forward to returning to a circuit where he has won in the past.
"I won here in my F3
days, so I have some nice memories," the Indian reflected, "Spa is a drivers' track - and the atmosphere is always great. Even though a lot of run-off has been added over the years, it still has some of the most challenging corners on the calendar. And then there's the classic Spa weather which nearly always plays a part in the final result!"
With Marussia raising its game through the mid-part of the year, HRT currently props up the constructors' table, and needs to better Karthikeyan's 15th-place finish in Monaco - and Timo Glock's brace of 14ths for its main rival - if it is to move up.
"We'll be using the same medium rear wing which worked well in Canada, so we hope it goes well in Spa as we aim to maintain our progress throughout the second part of the championship. We're back after a much deserved break after an especially intense start to the season for us and we're really looking forward to it.”