New Delhi, March 1 (IANS) Narain Karthikeyan's HRT team is racing against time to get its new car ready so that the Indian driver can test it on the last two days of the four-day Formula One final pre-season testing Saturday-Sunday.
Barely 17 days from the season's opening race in Melbourne March 18, Karthikeyan is itching to "scrape off the rust" after being away from the cockpit since the Indian Grand Prix here in October last year.
HRT has already faced a setback after their car failed FIA's mandatory crash test and missed the first two rounds of pre-season testing. Having passed the crash test now, the team is hoping to test the new car F112 probably on the last day of testing Sunday with their drivers Narain and Pedro de la Rosa finding time to get used to the tyres and cars.
"We are working flat out and Narain will be in Germany, where the car is being built, to do seat fitting Friday and will fly to Barcelona Saturday like everybody else," a HRT official told IANS.
HRT, a back of the grid team, could not get their 2011 car ready until the free practice session in Australia and its drivers Narain and Vitantonio Liuzzi failed to even qualify for the race.
Narain said delay in getting the car ready had definitely affected his preparation, but he now wanted to make the best use of the time available.
"Goes without saying that we would have liked some running in the second test, but as things stand we are left only with the final test and we should make best use of it," he said.
"Since it is a brand new car, we will just have enough time to ensure that all components functioned without any glaring problems, basically like shakedown. So, testing speed takes the backseat for now. We just have to ensure we hit the ground running at FP1 in Australia, knowing where we stand and what needs to be done," Narain told IANS from Germany.
"Also, for me the final test will be the only chance to scrape off the rust as I haven't driven since the Indian GP."
The 35-year-old, who is in his second consecutive season with HRT, was confident that they will have a better start to the year unlike in 2011.
"To be honest, I think the past is past, the team now is almost all-new as we have hired a lot of personnel and the management is new. Everyone is extremely motivated to put the show on the road, so we aren't wasting time looking at 2011."
"It is like starting from a clean sheet. There will be hurdles, but given the direction and dedication that has continually shown by the team, things look promising," he said of the new team owners Thesan Capital and team principal Luiz Perez-Sala, a former F1 driver.
(Bharat Sharma can be contacted at email@example.com)