A day after Narain Karthikeyan was denied a chance at setting a qualifying time for the Korean Grand Prix, HRT team-mate Pedro de la Rosa
was sidelined from the race by unusual mechanical gremlins.
Despite making a good getaway from his slightly elevated starting position - the Spaniard had been promoted to 22nd by penalties to Daniel Ricciardo and Charles Pic
- de la Rosa began to suffer an issue with his throttle pedal within just a few laps, eventually prompting his team to pull him out on safety grounds.
"We were anticipating a tough race, but the start was good," the F1 veteran reflected, "Unfortunately, we had a problem with the throttle pedal since the fifth lap. At the start, it would get slightly jammed but, as the laps went by, it got worse so the team decided to pull me out. I think they made the right decision because, not only was the car very difficult to handle and we were going slower and slower, but it was also dangerous. After this tough weekend we must now leave this behind, look ahead and think about the next race.”
Karthikeyan, who had been sidelined by a broken brake disc that sent him spearing into the run-off zone on his first flying lap in qualifying on Saturday, managed to complete the race distance, albeit two laps down on eventual winner Sebastian Vettel. Like his rivals, the Indian struggled with tyre wear, having tried to run an aggressive strategy, but came home encouraged ahead of his home grand prix in two weekends' time.
"We opted to get the race underway on supersoft tyres, and the start was good as I got past a few cars, but perhaps it wasn't the best option because we had quite a bit of graining in the front tyres from the start, which made me struggle with some understeer," he reported, "But, when we changed to soft tyres, the balance of the car was pretty good. I think a one-stop strategy was too much for the front tyres, but we had to take the risk. It's been a tough weekend, but I'll keep the positives which is to have finished the race after two races not doing so and the Indian Grand Prix
which is on the horizon”.
For team principal Luis Pérez-Sala, Korea was a tough weekend, especially after HRT had appeared to make gains with its latest developments in Japan.
"We knew it wouldn't be an easy race, but we went for it," he confirmed, "After the Japanese Grand Prix, where we took a step forward, this weekend we were unable to fight with our direct rivals. Narain, after his bad luck in qualifying yesterday, completed an impeccable race today, whereas Pedro was the downside of the day. But there was no alternative [to pulling him out] because of safety reasons.
"In [Saturday] morning's practice sessions, we witnessed an improvement in the performance of the cars, and the drivers finished with better sensations than [Friday]. But in qualifying, things didn't go so well. Narain, on his first lap, suffered a broken brake disc and was unable to go out, but luckily both him and the car are well. Pedro completed a good lap, but our rivals were much better. It's been tough but, in two weeks, we will have another opportunity to continue with the progress we'd shown up to now."