HRT eyeing Toyota partnership

HRT has been in the news lately and with good reason. They are rotating drivers mid-season in favor of a paying driver in the shape of Sakon Yamamoto. This, coupled with financial difficulty rumors of owner Jose Carabante, has many wondering what the reality is of HRT finishing the year let alone starting in 2011.

Today Reuters ran a story in which team boss Colin Kolles has suggested that they may be talking to former F1 team Toyota about a technical partnership. This concept won’t be new to any of you who recall the oddity that was Stefan GP last year as they too were trumpeting a technical relationship with Toyota and dragging around old Toyota chassis to signal their intent to enter F1.

It’s understood that HRT did speak with Stefan GP at some point but a merger was not likely. Now HRT seem to have taken a page from the Stefan GP playbook and have approached Toyota about the same relationship for 2011.

This, in my mind, makes sense. Cologne-based Toyota has a 2010 chassis although they never raced it and HRT’s consultant Geoff Willis has been scathing in his comments about the Dallara chassis the team is currently using. Without the resources to develop a car from scratch, it seems likely that the team will look for a supplier to provide a better chassis.

In Toyota, they would have an advanced technology partner and a chassis, while untried, is on par with the 2010 regulations. As long as the price is right and HRT can afford the partnership, it would lend a serious boost in the arm for the struggling team. With limited resources and manufacturing, it may be one of a very few options for the team for 2011. Kolles said:

“Yes, it is an option,” he said. “I think it could be a good option for us.”

Oddly, driver Bruno Senna has shed more light on the situation telling Reuters:

“It’s an ongoing thing but I don’t think they have any contracts signed and everything done,” he told Reuters. “It’s a lot of planning to do, considering the team is still trying to get on its feet.

“So everybody is working hard to find backing and the right people to work. I think they (the team) have some good plans.”

It’s an option that makes sense but alas, I am sure there are many options that make sense for the team at this point…like dumping Karun Chandhok in favor of a paying driver such as Yamamoto.

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