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HRT anticipating initial step backwards in 2012

ESPNF1 Staff
December 17, 2011 « F1 will struggle in the US - Ecclestone | Montezemolo calls on Ferrari to redeem itself »
HRT is preparing for a tough year in 2012 © Sutton Images
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New team principal Luis Perez-Sala has admitted HRT will have to take a step backwards next year in order to lay the foundations for future success.

Perez-Sala was drafted in by new owners Thesan Capital to replace Colin Kolles as the team looks to shift its base from Munich, where the 2012 car is being designed, to Valencia. But Perez-Sala, who drove for Minardi in the late 1980s, has admitted the transitional period might have a negative effect on results.

"The task ahead of us, with the design of the car and change of headquarters, is huge," he said. "Formula One is very complicated and implies a lot of preparation work so, in this respect, HRT is a little bit behind other teams. We will feel the effects of this transformation the team is going through and will have to "pay" for it at the start of the season.

"We're not going to be at the same level as when we finished this past season, where the same team had been running for two years, but we're aware of that. We're taking a step back so that we can take two forward. 2012 will be an important year for us to settle and face a more natural and stable situation in 2013."

HRT finished 11th in the constructors' championship in 2011 after spending most of the year fighting for the minor placings with Virgin. Perez-Sala said his immediate objective is to run the new car at one of the pre-season tests, something the team has yet to accomplish in its two year history, and then look to 2013 and 2014 for serious gains.

"In the short term the main objective is to consolidate the Project," he added. "Create a strong team in Spain that works, with the technical area in Munich. And of course to have the 2012 car ready for the start of the season to be able to take part in the first race and all the preseason tests that we can. In the medium term we intend to improve the car and get closer to our rivals than last year. To see which are our strengths and weaknesses and work on them to improve at every grand prix. In the long run, with a better car and a solid structure, we will think about the strategy for 2013 and, above all, 2014 when there will be major changes to regulations."

Pedro de la Rosa is set to drive one of HRT's cars in 2012, while Tonio Liuzzi claims to have a contract to race alongside him. However, Perez-Sala said the decision on de la Rosa's team-mate would be confirmed next year.

"We are in advanced talks with several drivers but we can't anticipate anything yet. It's a decision we surely won't make until the start of next year because, at this stage, who will be the team's second driver for next season is perhaps the least urgent one right now."