After having failed to make the 107 percent cut in qualifying, Indian Formula 1 driver Narain Karthikeyan and his experienced HRT F1 teammate Pedro De La Rosa will not be allowed to start tomorrow’s Australian Grand Prix.
Although the Spanish squad requested permission to race, the stewards said the team will not be allowed to take part in the season opener.
Earlier on Friday, the weekend had started on a difficult note as the team was denied proper running during practice sessions due to unpredictable weather conditions and technical issues. It was essentially the first time the HRT F112 got some hard running, having not taken part in pre-season testing.
Although some issues were sorted out, others cropped up today and robbed the team of precious track time and ultimately prevented the car from qualifying.
It is the second year in a row HRT has missed the first race of the season.
“It is a huge disappointment to not qualify for the race, no doubt about that. Some major mechanical issues took up a majority of our time – hydraulics problems in particular, which cropped up yesterday and couldn’t be eradicated today as well”, said Karthikeyan.
“The hydraulic fluid temperature couldn’t be maintained at optimal levels which made the car really difficult to drive due to a heavy steering, and more critically put the DRS out of operation – which is alone worth almost a second during qualifying.
“If we had been able to get on top of these niggles there was certainly enough pace to make the cut. Yes it would’ve been close, but we’d at least be on the grid”, he added.
Karthikeyan however admitted that he expected teething problems with the car initially, but didn’t expect to be bogged down to such an extent.
“During my F1 career, I’ve always driven older-spec cars. The Jordan I drove in 2005 was a ’04 spec, and last year’s car was the same 2010 Dallara chassis. I had higher expectations this year considering it is a new design – I knew it wouldn’t be a walk in the park but I was quite optimistic.
“I believe these issues have shadowed the real potential of the car, but what concerns me more is the reliability. It is a huge unknown as we haven’t done more than two consecutive flying laps, let alone a full race distance.”
The F1 circus heads to Malaysia’s Sepang circuit next weekend and with the time just enough to pack and transit, the Indian is expecting another tough outing round the corner.
“Malaysia is going to be tough too – it is a challenging layout speed-wise, plus the tropical weather means high ambient temperatures, and possibly rain.
“We don’t have time to do anything radical because these are back to back weekends, so I hope we can iron out as many problems as possible once we hit the track next Friday and ensure that we’re in decent shape for China.”