• Malaysian Grand Prix - Qualifying

HRT delighted to be on grid

ESPNF1 Staff
April 9, 2011 « R31 performed to its maximum - Heidfeld | »
Tonio Liuzzi showed impressive pace to qualify within half a second of Jermoe d'Ambrosio in the Virgin © Sutton Images

HRT said it was delighted to be starting the Malaysian Grand Prix having qualified comfortably within the 107% qualifying time.

Tonio Liuzzi and Narain Karthikeyan will start the race from the back of the grid, but having not been allowed to race in Australia and had some reliability issues so far this weekend, team principal Colin Kolles said he was pleased that the team would get the opportunity to do some more running with its new car.

"We made the next step by qualifying into the race," Kolles said. "This was our target: to qualify and to be able to do more laps. By doing more miles we are understanding the F111 better and our drivers are getting more and more out of it. Both drivers did a good job out there today, Tonio set a very good baseline. Now we have set a base from which to work from in the future. I would like to thank the whole team for their massive effort. Now we have our next target in mind which is to keep doing laps and finish tomorrow's race with both cars."

Karthikeyan was a second off of Liuzzi's pace, but said that was due to locking up at the first corner, and that the team could take "great satisfaction" from making it on to the grid.

"We made it through qualifying which was our aim for today," Karthikeyan said. "The car is virtually brand new so it's good to get some more mileage done, the more time we can get out on the track the better. I flat spotted my second set of tyres on turn one so it was hard to set a good time with them after that but everybody worked extremely hard and we're delighted to be in the race.

We marked Sepang on the calendar beforehand as one of the toughest circuits to get under the 107% time so it's a great satisfaction to have done it. Now I hope to finish tomorrow's race and get a lot more laps under my belt with the new car. They're forecasting rain for tomorrow so you never know what will happen out there."

Liuzzi put in an impressive qualifying performance, getting within half a second of Jerome d'Ambrosio's Virgin. He said that the aim now was to learn more about the car in order to get even closer to those in front.

"It's great for everyone that we were well under 107%," Liuzzi said. "We proved that in Australia the problem wasn't a matter of pace but a matter of time out on the track, we had half a day of testing compared to the three months other teams did. You can't just gain mileage out of nothing. Now we have to work hard in the following months, in the next races to try and close the gap."