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HRT was one of the newcomers selected to join the F1 grid for the 2010 season, but came close to going the same way as USF1; which secured a place in the field but then never raced after running into financial issues.
Initially headed by Adrian Campos and known as Campos Meta 1, the team planned to run a Dallara chassis with a Cosworth engine for its debut season, with Bruno Senna named as the first driver for the programme on the weekend of the 2009 season finale.
However, rumours of financial issues soon started to appear and with Bernie Ecclestone having voiced concern about whether the team would be ready for 2010, the vultures began to circle. In mid-February and with time running out to the opening round of the year, it was confirmed that Jose Ramon Carabante had taken control from Campos and that the team was to be renamed as Hispania Racing.
A late deal saw Karun Chandhok named as Senna’s team-mate but the team arrived in Bahrain for the season opener with no pre-season testing and with the F110 having not even turned a wheel. Given the issues that had faced the team, it was little surprise that the car was well off the pace and would remain so all season with little or no development carried out as the relationship with Dallara deteriorated.
Senna was forced to miss the British Grand Prix after being replaced by Sakon Yamamoto, who then took the place of Chandhok for the remainder of the year – aside from the Singapore GP where he was unwell and replaced by Christian Klien.
A superior finishing record meant Hispania finished 2010 ahead of Virgin in the standings to avoid the wooden spoon, but the off-season saw the team beset by rumours suggesting there were further financial issues. A planned to deal to use Toyota’s unused 2010 car as the basis for its 2011 challenger failed due to lack of funds and it was once again a race against time to make the grid for the new season.
With Narain Karthikeyan and Tonio Liuzzi in a new-look driver line-up, the team failed to qualify for the season opener in Australia after the cars only hit the track for the first time at Albert Park. After a double DNF in Malaysia, results started to arrive as, although far from quick, the new F111 did at least display reliability. Liuzzi’s 13th place finish in Canada ensured the team again beat Virgin in the standings although team-mate Karthikeyan struggled on his return to F1 and was replaced mid-season by Red Bull protégé Daniel Ricciardo.
With Thesan Capital having taken control of the team from Carabante mid-way through 2011, HRT was keen to take on more of a Spanish flavour in 2012, with Pedro de la Rosa signing up to lead the team and former Minardi driver Luis Perez-Sala being named as team principal when Colin Kolles departed.
With Geoff Willis having also departed, Toni Cuqueralla took on the role of technical director of the new F112, although issues with the mandatory FIA crash tests meant the car wasn’t ready for de la Rosa and the returning Karthikeyan to complete any pre-season testing – leading to the pair failing to qualify for the season opener in Australia.
Despite a chronic lack of funds, de la Rosa showed flashes of the potential that the team felt was in the car early in the season, but the longer the season went on, the bigger the gap to the field became as HRT slipped further behind its rivals.
Moving the team to a new base in Madrid mid-season was meant to be a sign that HRT was ready to make progress in the long-term, but instead Thesan Capital elected to cut its losses and put the team up for sale in November.
With no buyer found before the entry deadline for the 2013 season, there was little surprise when the Spanish team wasn’t on the list published by the FIA – seemingly bringing HRT’s troubled three-year stay in F1 to an end.
The FIA is due to begin its assessment of applications to join the Formula 1 grid in 2015, with several proposals having been submitted.
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