One of the more quietly impressive performances in 2012 has come from the tiny HRT Formula 1 team.
Hampered by persistent money woes and structural calamity, the Spanish squad still somehow manage to make a decent go of motorsport’s top level.
For all the criticism the team receive, the team are rarely ever threatened by the 107% rule in qualifying and were at least 2-and-a-half seconds clear of the dangerzone at the last Grand Prix in Bahrain.
Of course, the debacle that surrounded the team leading up to and throughout the opening race weekend in Melbourne greatly tarnished their formbook, but that was seven weeks ago and things have moved on somewhat.
With the fifth round of the World Championship in Barcelona on the horizon – possibly a wet one should the long range forecasts ring true – HRT are showing something of a stable front, in spite of apparent organisational anarchy.
Admittedly, the team may fall back toward the drop-out point as the season progresses. The lack of in season updates, paralleled by development strides at the front – especially in what is looking like an ultra competitive season – could warrant worried looks come the final flyaway races.
Of course, HRT decided to miss last week’s three-day test at Mugello in lieu of moving into their new headquarters in Madrid’s Caja Mágica region.
So, it is good to see the team pick up at least some sponsorship – and not just for their home Grand Prix either.
Spanish windscreen repair and replacement company, Cristalbox, have not only signed up a sponsor for HRT for the rest of the season, but have also been contracted to glaze the squad’s new Madrid headquarters.
In fairness, Cristalbox have spent much of the past two-and-a-half seasons sponsoring Formula 1 television broadcasts, so they have had some involvement within the sport, although placing their name on the side of the F112 may yet garner a little less coverage compared to their media partnerships.
As well as that, HRT have added olive oil producers Carbonell to their list of sponsors, in a collaborative deal that will see the team’s lunchtime meals impress even the stuffiest of connoisseurs. Probably.
To be fair to Carbonell, this deal makes them the first Spanish-centric food brand to operate in Formula 1, so good for them. They claim to “…transform dishes (…) give them soul, makes the normal special [and] turns the experience of eating into something sublime…” Uh-huh.
Meanwhile, HRT reserve and GP2 veteran Dani Clos will take part in his first Friday session of the season, when he sits in for Narain Karthikeyan during the opening ninety-minute practice session.
It will mark the first time that a Spanish pairing will front a Spanish team in the category’s history. For Clos, the 23-year-old has a tough prospect – after sitting in for Josef Kral at Barwa Addax for rounds 2 and 3 of this year’s GP2 Series, the Spaniard returns the drive to Kral having scored no points.
Indeed, both rounds proved invisibilities lack of value, with Clos barely making a blip on the radar during his brief tenure, although past seasons have seen the Spaniard nab two wins and seven podiums.
He will be hoping for much better exposure when he takes to the circuit on Friday morning.