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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Does HRT F1's demise really matter?

Pedro de la Rosa attempts to qualify the HRT F! challenger in Melbourne
Courtesy: HRT F1
Look, I'm sad too that the HRT F1 Team will not be on the grid in 2013 but really, given the shoestring budget they've worked on for the last 3 years and the fact that they were owned by an investment bank it's no surprise that they weren't and won't be at the races next year.

I'm sad for the guys who have been working there and I'm particularly sad for Pedro de la Rosa who has, unfortunately, had to put up with the lowly position on each grid over the course of this season.  His proven skills behind the wheel deserved better than HRT F1 gave him.

But that is the life of an F1 driver really.  I'm picturing Alesi behind the wheel of a Prost, Hill in an Arrows (though he did have THAT drive to console himself with), and Villeneuve in the BAR (though that was his own choice and hubris).

The car itself and it's production was always dubious.  In it's three years on the grid it failed to make pre-season testing every year and turned up at Melbourne each year without having turned a wheel.  In 2010 the car started the race from the pitlane and in 2011 and 2012 the team failed to make the 107% cut.

Their highest ever finish in a Grand Prix has been 13th in Canada last year which resulted from an impressive drive by Vitantonio Liuzzi, the only impressive drive he had all year.

As with all of the three at the back HRT F1 failed to luck into any point over the course of the team's short life but this does not take away from the effort which the team personnel put into the car and the races.  Their coverage was always timely, their attitude positive - all that they lacked was funding and sponsorship which meant they were always dealt a loaded deck.

The money wasn't there and any aero testing was taking place at the Mercedes factory in Brackley a journey of 2,000 miles from their Headquarters in Spain.

No money and no points, let's face it it was time for the team to go.

It is the nature of F1 that the weakest do not survive and the failure of one of the Bottom 3 has been written in the stars.

HRT F1 join the luminaries of F1 such as Simtek (who ran for a season and a half, laced with the tragedy of Roland Ratzenberger's death at Imola in 94, before giving up mid 95), Pacific (who also began in 94 and managed to finish out the 95 season), Lola (who only managed to turn up for Melbourne in 97 before being scrapped), Forti in 1995, Fondmetal in 91 and, of course, Andrea Moda in 1992.

The truth is that you need to be well funded to enter the sport and your future planning needs to be sound.  Many have tried and most have failed, particularly since the reinvigoration of the sport through the direct participation of the manufacturers such as Honda, Toyota, BMW, Mercedes, Renault, etc.

Is there room for another team on the grid, probably, but it needs to have a strong plan to bring the fight to the midfield.  I wouldn't be surprised to see Marussia struggle next year with finances and sponsorship, though it may well be that Caterham would begin to feel the pinch.  Toss a coin and whichever side it lands on there's a struggling team.