Of the three new teams making their début at Bahrain, Hispania Racing Team had the least to prove thanks to the late buyout of Campos Meta by José Ramón Carabante just two weeks before the start of the season. With all of this, it was going to be difficult for HRT to achieve anything other than a few turns of their wheels.
The team turned up in Bahrain without a single car complete which meant that Bruno Senna was only able to complete three installation laps in the first free practice session. For the second free practice, Senna was able to get more laps under his belt, eventually finishing the session 11 seconds slower that the fastest time set by Nico Rosberg. However, Karun Chandhok was unable to leave the garage all day. “It’s some sort of electronic or hydraulic issue, I don’t think it’s mechanical. It’s not an ideal situation, but we’ve been a but luckier on Bruno’s car which at least got out of the garage, and try and do a bit more this afternoon.” he said.
Saturdays morning practice was more productive again for Bruno Senna who managed to get his lap time within 10 seconds of Fernando Alonsos blistering lap. However, it was the same old story for Chandhok, who cars suffered from hydraulic failure, which mean that Karun would go into qualifying without a single lap of the Bahrain circuit.
It was perhaps inevitable that both cars should qualify 23rd and 24th, with Senna lapping 2.7 seconds slower that Lucas Di Grassi in 22nd place. Chandhok lapped a respectable 1.7seconds slower that Senna. A remarkable performance given the fact that this was his first time turning a wheel in the car, let alone a Formula One car.
And so to the race, where the team decided to start from the pit lane, allowing the cars to be released from parc ferme so the team could continue working overnight. It was no surprise, that on the second lap, Karuns’ race ended after riding over a bump that he didn’t know was there, sending his HRT head first into the barriers. Sennas’ race ended on lap 17 when he parked his car at turn with an overheated engine. It was the furthest the car had ran uninterrupted. Albeit with a pit stop to change the tyres.
It was unsurprising given the fact of the rush to complete the cars that Hispania Racing Team’s first weekend was as chaotic as that. However, there are many positives the team can take away with both Senna and Chandhok showing good pace. They will have to ride out the following fly-away races, concentrating on reliability before heading back to Europe where the team can search for pace and hope to catch up Lotus F1 and Virgin.