HRT has Tata but no Senna?

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I’ll be honest; it’s good to see HRT in the news today as Colin Kolles has been talking to Reuters about the 2011 campaign and the recent signing of Narain Karthikeyan. While Kolles did admit that Karthikeyan did come with some sponsor money, he was adamant that the money has to come from somewhere and drivers have paid for rides for the last 100 years. Hmmm, I may have to do the math on that but he could be right. Although I suggest those drivers are not necessarily the ones that Ferrari, McLaren or Williams were always looking for.

The big news for me is the announcement that Bruno Senna is finished at HRT. In regards to Kolles comments, Senna said:

“Maybe he is right,” the driver told Reuters of Brazil.

“The situation is a bit difficult in F1 right now…I didn’t really have the opportunity to show what I could do last year because of various problems and that didn’t help me for this season.

“We are in talks for the few opportunities that are still open but I can’t say it’s very easy at the moment. Even Nico (Hulkenberg) is struggling to find a competitive seat,”

The signing of Karthikeyan is good news as he brings HRT closer to Indian car maker Tata, who owns Jaguar, and this could be a very positive move for the team who was once centered on becoming the Iberian Peninsula Racing Team and settled for Hispania Racing Team instead. Apparently there are now two Indian teams so Force India team owner Vijay Mallya should watch his back when wooing Indian sponsors.

It an interesting notion and the trend toward teams requiring drivers to do all the sponsor wooing and arrangement is stronger than ever in 2011. If I look at this topically, it leaves me concerned for the team who is now becoming obligated to a driver for their cash flow, and in HRT’s case, possibly their existence. Perhaps the F100 group that Christian Sylt assembled to chat about their investments in F1 could become a louder voice in the future. If sponsors are not working with teams, teams are vulnerable.

I can’t imagine McLaren’s Ron Dennis allowing his operation to be reliant on a driver and the sponsor who backs him to gauge or dictate the future of the Woking-based operation. Desperate times mean desperate measures and I am not so obtuse to not recognize that HRT has to do something to true-up their balance sheet.

All of that is a bit heavy handed of me, however, as the team is said to have secured a Swiss bank as a title sponsor and they are working with Williams F1 on a new transmission to fit their newly crafted monocoque. Perhaps F1B reader, “Williams4ever” is right in thinking Neel Jani might be a face we could see at HRT in 2011?

Either way, I think it’s great to see HRT in the news. Why? It means they have every confidence they will make the grid and be a better team in 2011. If they aren’t, I am inclined to say F1 is not the series they should be toying with. Perhaps F2 or GP2 would be a better proving ground for their technical, financial and management prowess?


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