Well, we finally did it. This time next week Bahrain first free practice will have been and gone and now we finally know who will be driving what during it. Just twelve of the fourteen made it (oh yes, we lost Toyota on the way too) and a fifteenth failed to climb over the catchment fencing and sneak on to the grid by the back door.
After all the big promises, it was USF1 who fell by the wayside while the other three new teams kept their nose to the ground and eventually delivered, all be it in a round about way in the case Hispania Racing, née Campos Meta 1. It’s been a prolonged old drama in order to end up with a grid extended from last year’s by just four cars. With the FIA planning to reopen the entry process in order the fill the thirteenth grid slot next year, I can only hope they have learnt something from the 2009-10 process.
Hispania it is then. Or HRT if you’re the FIA, just to confuse things. Bruno Senna survives the team name change and is joined by Karun Chandhok. It’s an interesting pairing as they will know each other well having already been team mates in 2008 for iSport International in GP2.
“I am excited by our driver line-up and the amazing effort and passion I have witnessed from our entire team to get us to this point. We have all tools in our hands to become the most successful new team in the F1 paddock this year.”
Team principal, Colin Kolles
Senna won that battle convincingly, claiming double the points total of his team mate to finish as the series’ runner-up. Still, with no testing ahead of Bahrain, Chandhok may be the best prepared following a third season in GP2 while Senna was left out in the cold by the demise of Honda, eventually filling in his year in sports car racing.
The car itself is very simple, with little in the way of sponsors, an uninspiring livery and, for now, not even a chassis name. A lack of testing might not impact too much on the car’s speed although their drivers are going to have to work well together to get the car set up in Bahrain with no prior experience of the car. Certainly, the Dallara built chassis could easily be quicker than that of Lotus and Virgin. The big question is going to be one of reliability – early problems, as experienced by their fellow newcomers, could be more than a little problematic.