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  1. #1
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    Will Hispania Survive 2011?

    Hispania’s has made an in auspicious start to the 2011 season. For the second year in a row the team failed to complete any pre-season testing mileage and entered the first race of the season woefully unprepared.

    Things went from bad to worse when the team fell foul of the new 107% qualifying regulations, meaning that neither car was permitted to take part in the opening race of the year. So should Hispania give up, or is their light at the end of the tunnel?

    In the beginning there was Campos…
    Former F1 driver Adrian Campos established the Campos Racing team which was granted entry into the Formula One World Championship along with USGP, Virgin Racing and Lotus Racing prior to the start of the 2010 world championship. The battle to get the new teams ready for entry was ferociously difficult in an economic market struggling to recover from the global recession. This ultimately claimed the USGP operation and Campos Racing looked set to be the next victim.

    However, in order to keep his dream of a Spanish racing team alive Adrian Campos sold his team to Spanish businessman José Ramón Carabante, who is the owner of a real estate business in his homeland called Grupo Hispania. The team were in a shambles and Carabante believed that the only person who could ensure that they made it to the first race was former Midland F1 boss Colin Kolles, who was brought on board as team principal in place of the departing Campos.

    Chassis manufacturer Dallara had not put in as much resources into the car development as had been initially intended due to Campos missing a number of payments to the company and the F110 chassis was heavily compromised. Kolles arranged for the cars to built at his own factory in Germany and the team miraculously managed to reach the first race.

    The struggles continue
    However, the fact that the team didn’t get the second car ready before qualifying for the first race and their lack of preparation seriously damaged their credibility. On top of this the team had been renamed Hispania Racing Team, which the British press gleefully shortened to HRT in deference to Hormone Replacement Therapy.

    The team had basically become a joke in the eyes of many, with Bernie Ecclestone himself commenting on the teams financial struggles at the Monte Carlo Grand Prix in May. He promised to help them but this was not enough to save number two driver Karun Chandok’s job, as his replacement Sakon Yamamoto brought more sponsorship money to the struggling outfit.

    Hopes for the future
    The future began to look much brighter by the end of the season. The team had recruited former Telefonica President Juan Villalonga, who would aid their quest for commercial partners. It was also announced that the team had hired Geoff Willis who would assume the position of technical director. Willis had previously designed race winning cars for the Williams and Honda teams.

    Hispania also revealed that it had signed a deal with Williams to receive their gearbox systems in 2011. This is reputedly one of the lightest in the sport, and brought with it high hopes. These hopes became even higher when rumours began to circulate that the team had bought the rights to Toyota’s never raced 2010 chassis which had been designed prior to their withdrawal from the sport at the end of 2009. With massive strides having been made both in terms of personnel and technology, Hispania set it sights on mid field positions for 2011.

    Failed Promise
    However, things took a turn for the worst when Toyota severed its connections to the outfit, claiming that they had failed to meet payment demands. Hispania denied the claims, but this didn’t stop the deal falling through. This began a mad dash to design and build a car which would comply with the 2011 regulations in less than five months.

    Many doubted that even Geoff Willis with his huge experience could achieve such a task, and it is possible that this perception harmed the team’s chances with potential commercial partners. To overcome this, Hispania released an image of its new car on at the start of February which featured logos with the words “this is a cool spot” which was basically advertising the teams’ openness to sponsorship approaches. According to a marketing expert working in the very competitive car insurance market, this was a poor decision: “Formula One is all about exclusivity, technology and innovation. By employing such obvious tactics to attract commercial investment the team is only fuelling the perception that it is experiencing financial difficulties and unable to compete with other competitors, which are the two core reasons why they have struggled to attract investment in the first place”.

    Along with their commercial problems, Hispania’s technical difficulties also continued. The team had promised to test the car in the final test session of the winter before the Australian Grand Prix. However, despite the cars being present the team were unable to take to the track claiming that vital components had been held up in customs. These claims were refuted by people close to the team, who told Holland’s F1today.nl that more fundamental components such as front and rear wings had not yet been manufactured.

    These suspicions appeared to be vindicated when the team arrived for the opening round of the 2011 season sporting their 2010 front end amid claims that the new components had not passed the FIA’s mandatory crash tests. The result was a woeful performance with neither driver setting a time good enough to justify qualification for the race.

    Is their any hope?
    Hispania’s poor performance in Melbourne and lack of visible commercial partners makes their situation appear bleak. According to the marketing expert who was questioned on the topic, this has contributing toward their failure but does not tell the whole story: “Hispania’s failure to attract commercial backers is obviously being affected by this image they have of being the perennial under achiever with little hope of survival. Who wants to be associated with that? But more fundamentally, at the start of their existence they failed to differentiate themselves in a way which made them appealing to potential sponsors. Virgin had the CFD thing, while Lotus Racing was obviously banking on the history of the Lotus name. The original Spanish image of Campos obviously didn’t work as it didn’t attract enough money, but was better than the image the team current has.”

    Whether the team can overcome this issue remains to be seen, but what is clear is that they will need a more fundamental change than simply altering the livery. Perhaps it would be best for the team to be sold to a new owner who could start all over again with a fresh sheet of paper and a new image. As for their hopes for the immediate future, it really appears that it is a matter of taking it one race at a time.

  2. #2
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    I hope they will and btw welcome to the forum
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  3. #3
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    I reckon they'll be alright - I mean when they turned up over 10sec per lap slower in Bahrain last year people thought they didn't have a hope.

    The new car looked alright when it was going round the track, not a handful like last year's. I think with some more running under their belts they will easily qualify for the race.

    They have yet to properly push the car on flying laps, so they have improvement to come surely.

  4. #4
    Senior Member steveaki13's Avatar
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    I hope so, I think one of the drivers if not both, may just squeeze into the race, depending on how fast the Red Bulls go.

    As for the rest of 2011. I think it all depends on how many races they take part in, 5 or 6 DNQ's in a row and they may fold.
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  5. #5
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    Hopefully no.
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    Actually I am surprised that they have lasted this long. First of all I didn't expect them to reach the 2010 grid, then I didn't expect them to finish the season, even less so reach 2011 grid. And even if they were going to race in 2011, then would have expected it to be worse than 2010 with their "old modified car", but it looks like they could start matching Virgin soon. : It has been a brave struggle. I suppse TATA is interested in seeing out the whole season, so now I expect them to keep going.

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    I'm warming to them. I doubt they'll ever fill the void left by Minardi but their ability to keep coming back from advertsisty does draw some parallels with the plucky back markers.

    They've qualified easily today on a track that is quite aero dependant - bravo.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sonic
    I'm warming to them. I doubt they'll ever fill the void left by Minardi but their ability to keep coming back from advertsisty does draw some parallels with the plucky back markers.

    They've qualified easily today on a track that is quite aero dependant - bravo.
    Aye, first proper weekend of running with the car too and Liuzzi was a smidgeon under 2 seconds quicker than the 107% time and Karthikeyan was also very comfortably within the time too, so its clear the car has some potential in it.

    Kudos to them and the rest of last years newbies too, Lotus showed huge improvement and nearly beat one of the Williams cars on merit (if they had KERS, then Kovalainen might well have beaten Maldonado), Im really looking forward to see how they do when they get the Red Bull diffuser on in Barcelona. Virgin also showed improved pace compared to Australia
    "Alboreto, into the pits, and im going to stop the startwatch" (Murray Walker, Monaco 1987)

  9. #9
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    Looks like they will even be better than Virgin if they get some kms of testing during the next few GPs.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by ioan
    Looks like they will even be better than Virgin if they get some kms of testing during the next few GPs.
    I really don't see why people carry on about HRT being a failure when Virgin struggle to outperform them despite something resembling a proper budget.

    If I was HRT I'd be targetting India. They clearly have some contacts there since they've been sponsored both by JayPee and Tata. Given how disliked Mallya seems to be by the Indian business community maybe they can be persuaded to throw more money at HRT to be the lead 'Indian' team...

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