The third free practice session and qualifying which took place at the Yas Marina Circuit today in Abu Dhabi were positive overall for HRT Formula 1 Team. The optimization of the aero package introduced recently, added to new engine air intake and an improved set-up of the car, enabled Pedro de la Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan to improve their performance at the wheel of the F112 and cut down the gap to the team's direct rivals. Pedro de la Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan finished qualifying in 23rd and 24th position respectively.
The team is confident ahead of the 55-lap race tomorrow after setting competitive times and the data showing low tyre degradation in the free practice session and is hopeful of retaining the reliability it had lost by getting both cars across the finish line.
Pedro de la Rosa: "We completed a good practice and qualifying session. I was comfortable in the car and I'm sure that I could have improved by a couple of tenths but surely the rest could have too. The car was running well and we had no problems with the temperature of the brakes or the engine at a circuit like this one which is so hot, so I'm happy. I think we've got good pace for tomorrow's race and the first objective is to get off to a good start and keep close to the Marussias. We should try to go for one stop, hope for the rear tyres to hold out and try and put some pressure on our rivals."
Narain Karthikeyan: "It was a tough qualifying session for me. It's my first time racing in Abu Dhabi and, being such a technical circuit, I'm finding it tougher than expected. I didn't manage to string together a good lap; I was running well on the first set of tyres but with the second set I found traffic and the rear tyres wore out before I could improve my time. Although I'm not entirely comfortable at this circuit, tomorrow I will give everything like always to try and put in a good performance and finish the race."
Toni Cuquerella, Technical Director: "The aerodynamic improvements as a result of the new rear wing and the new engine air intake have given a good result and the difference with our main rivals has reduced. It's also important that at such a tough circuit we haven't experienced problems with the temperature of the brakes or the engine. In qualifying it was important to find a clean lap and heat the front tyres well. Both drivers did a good job with the first set of tyres but Narain was unable to make the most of his second set. In any case, we're satisfied to see that we're close and that, with the data we extracted yesterday, we have a good race pace. The tyre degradation isn't too high so the race strategy will be two-stop or even one."
Check out our Qualifying gallery, here.