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Oh, Hispania!

By RG | 5 Feb 2011 | 6 Comments | 1,530 views

I’ve been around these parts before. Once upon a time, I wrote an article for the F1 Weekender e-magazine. My subject back then was the situation regarding, as it was then known, Campos Meta 1 (now of course Hispania Racing Team), and shock horror, my subject ten months down the line is the exact same thing.

Hispania Racing TeamIn those ten months, it has been a whirlwind for everyone involved with the project. Campos was bought by Jose Ramon Carabante, who renamed it as Hispania and then revealed the new grey coloured car weeks before the season opener, whilst unveiling the number two driver of Karun Chandhok, racing alongside Bruno Senna.

The season though was easily forgettable. Despite a decent showing by Karun Chandhok, he was replaced suddenly by the unpopular figure of Sakon Yamamoto and later on in the season, Christian Klien. It was a mess, a massive mess. A mess bigger than what the West Ham board currently find themselves in.

Despite all of the chaos, driver changes and the lack of updates on the car, they still managed to finish in 11th place, one ahead of Virgin Racing, purely down to a 14th in Korea, when Timo Glock was taken out by the calamitous Sebastian Buemi.

Back in March though, when I last wrote for the F1 Weekender about Hispania, I wrote about everything I expected about them, lets see how horribly wrong I was.

“I do expect Campos to make the grid.”
In all fairness, they did. Just. Karun Chandhok famously had his first run in the car during the qualifying session of the first race in Bahrain. They may not have finished, and they may have been deathly slow. But they had both cars on the grid for every single race, which is more than can be said for Sauber, Virgin Racing and Lotus, who all had DNS listed next to them in 2010.

“I’d give it to Chandhok hands down.”
This was in reference to who should get the second Hispania seat, and was I right? No, I don’t think I was. Was Chandhok impressive? Not really. He didn’t shine out against Senna, who frequently out qualified him in his half a season of racing. And lets not forget, Bruno Senna was the same person who was beaten easily by Christian Klien (who hadn’t raced in F1 since 2006) and even everyone’s favourite Sakon Yamamoto towards the end of the season. Would Chandhok have improved the team’s fortunes? In my eyes, no. He hasn’t had a spectacular season in any junior formula (although neither has some guy called Kobayashi) and really, didn’t show anything in his ten races to prove any quality in F1. Apart from finish when the others didn’t.

Hispania Racing TeamWas it luck? Or maybe he was nice and kind to that car? Saying that, Sakon Yamamoto only retired once but the improving fortunes of the other teams just meant he finished lower down the order.

For what it is worth, I think Hispania are more worthwhile with their ‘pay drivers’ of Yamamoto and Narain Karthikeyan.

“At least there is a light at the end of the tunnel for Campos Meta.”
Not from where I am looking at it now. Its bleak, dark and generally just a big, brick wall which the train is waiting to crash into. Nobody knows how Hispania are still making money, despite a few investments here and there and starting the trend of bringing back the pay driver, with Narain Karthikeyan as their only confirmed driver (finished behind his team mate at the farce which was the 2005 US GP). They can’t survive much longer, surely?

“they have Dallara behind them.”
They did. For two months.

“by the end of 2011, I can see Campos being the best of the 2010 new boys.”
Oi, stop laughing back there. This isn’t going to happen. Hispania will most likely stay toddling along on the same path of awfulness, while the likes of Team Lotus/Lotus Racing and Virgin Racing will advance, using the skills they have in their ranks, using the quality drivers they have to their disposal (Heikki Kovalainen and Timo Glock are both far better than the teams they are at.)

As the Orange advert never said, the future isn’t bright for that Spanish outfit at the back end of the grid.

Credit: Hispania Racing Team

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6 Comments »

  • Maverick

    Probably a fair analysis.

    The problem with Hispania is that they make themselves so hard to be liked (if they fail to come up with a more exciting livery this year, I WILL scream). Minardi and Super Aguri languished at the back but they had personality and so found widespread support. Team Lotus and Virgin both presented likeable images last year and built the foundations of a great fan base. Hispania? They drop the only bit of personality they had and replaced him with Yamamoto…

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  • Karen

    Hispania finished ahead of Virgin in the constructors championship.
    They’ll be lucky to repeat that, but they were a better team than most people gave them credit for last year, racing on a smaller budget than Ferrari’s hospitality spend.

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  • Maverick

    Karen,

    Yes (they always did better than USF1!) but they don’t need to spend money on becoming liked – they do themselves no favours in terms of attracting sponsors.

    Williams tie-up is very sound though, amazed Virgin didn’t manage something similar.

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  • Pat W

    Fair post.

    To be fair Senna was always expected to beat Chandhok so it should come as no surprise that his figures compare better. Senna beat him as team-mates in GP2, remember. That’s not to say Karun’s presence wasn’t missed, I reckon he could be one of those guys that improves and develops over time, really works at it, Graham Hill style (perhaps not quite to that level though!).

    Hispania seem to have shed staff over the winter, unless that was just the impression given by all of the drivers and team PR Tabatha Valls leaving. This Williams tie-up could help enormously even though that team haven’t been stellar recently, if you compare it to Hispania’s prospects *without* that deal.

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  • Richard hawley

    I think the only way they will survive is if the new car comes out of the box and flies relative to their close competitors. It has a chance as the cars development has been over seen by Geoff Willis who it clearly talented and is boxing much below his weight in the 3rd division as it were, however whether they have the budget to benefit from his expertise is another issue.

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