HRT technical director Antonio Cuquerella has revealed that next year's car from the small Spanish stable will not simply be a development of its 2012 tail-ender.
Speaking to the media after practice at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Cuquerella confirmed that work is already well underway on the successor to the current F112 at the team's new base in Madrid, and is confident that it will be an improvement.
"Oh no, it's not going to be the same car," the Spaniard smiled, "All the cars have a lot of common parts that carry over from one [year] to the other but, of course, it's going to be completely new in many areas: suspension, aerodynamics and many areas. Of course, some parts of the transmission are parts we are going to keep, but I would say all the parts that are lap time-relevant are going to be improved or replaced."
The relocation to the Caja Magica has come hand-in-hand with a major push to develop the team in all areas, and Cuquerella confirmed that progress was being made there too.
"As you know, we've done a big change this year, moving everything [so] everybody's under the same roof now," he noted, "We got our [design office in there] from the summer and now our department is moving from Germany to Spain. We are recruiting, we are doing a lot of interviews and we are recruiting at a high rate of people. But still we are the smallest team, there's no need to hide that. It's a long way for us to get into the midfield, or let's say the average size of team, but we are growing fast."
HRT filled it usual positions at the tail of the field on the opening day in Abu Dhabi, with Narain Karthikeyan only getting one session after handing his car over to development project Ma Qing Hua early on Friday. The Chinese driver's programme consisted of engine mapping tests and basic set-up of the car, before rounding off with a longer run where he was able to get more out of the car. Pedro de la Rosa
dedicated the entire day to working on the set-up of his car, as well as testing different configurations to evaluate the cooling of the brakes and both tyre compounds. Karthikeyan returned in the afternoon session, but only had 90 minutes to adapt to a track previously unknown to him.
"I'm happy with today because everything progressed with no issues and we carried out every test we had programmed," team principal Luis Pérez-Sala commented, "Ma got back in the car and, although he had to work for the team and wasn't able to push to the maximum, he was under the 107 per cent once again, which is very positive. Narain quickly adapted to the circuit in only one session and Pedro did a good job. The tests on the brakes prove that we're in a better position than in India and that's positive - but there's more to extract from the car still.”