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HRT has arrived in Singapore with its biggest package of updates since the Spanish Grand Prix in May. The team will fit a new floor to both Narain Karthikeyan and Pedro De La Rosa’s cars, an update which it hopes will net as much as half a second a lap.
The new floor should give drivers more confidence under braking, and while it’s unclear whether there is any extra downforce Karthikeyan believes it will at least produce less drag.
“It will close the gap, certainly,” said a buoyant Karthikeyan. “Does it mean we're going to be higher or not… Just one race won't say because we have to fine tune the car. It should work well in Japan if it's working.”
The Spanish team has lost ground to its nearest rivals Marussia, which has fitted a number of developments of its own in recent races. “From Germany onwards they've been a little bit ahead,” Karthikeyan agreed. “Hopefully this will close up things.
“If you take Monza for example from last year we've improved by 1.7 seconds (per lap) to the top cars but we're still in no man’s land, so we need a similar push.”
HRT has made quiet progress since the start of the season, even though on track performances have been nothing to shout about. It’s a situation team boss Luis Perez-Sala expected, the squad consolidating its operation this year with a focus on 2013 and beyond.
A large part of that has been centralising the team in to its new Madrid base. “Everybody sits under one roof,” Karthikeyan said. “There's proper direction. They know what to do and everyone talks to each other - not on the phone - it makes a difference.
“It's a big advantage for motorsport but I think you'll find these things working for the 2013 car,” Karthikeyan explained. “They've started hiring a lot of people for the design office.”
Encouragingly HRT will have a number of other updates before the end of the season, and while it is unlikely the team will rise from the bottom of the championship standings it at least leaves the team in a better position heading in to 2013 than it found itself in for 2012.
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