Does F1 miss Hispania?

In July 2009, the FIA decided to try and increase then number of teams on the grid from 10 to 13. After BMW Sauber’s withdrawal and subsequent reinstatement under Peter Sauber, and Toyota leaving, 4 new teams were eventually allowed to join the grid for 2010 – Team Lotus (now Caterham), Manor GP (then Virgin, now Marussia), Campos Meta (then HRT) and USF1. USF1 failed to make the grid for 2010, and after 3 seasons at the back Hispania left the sport. Now as the season is coming to a close, has the 2013 F1 season missed Hispania?

Performance

Despite regularly being called the worst team in F1, HRT finished 11th in both 2010 and 2011, only finishing last in 2012, their final season. It is highly unlikely that, had HRT remained, they would have built a car capable of challenging anyone other than Caterham and Marussia.

If we look at 2012, Hispania’s best result was 15th (and last) at the Grand Prix de Monaco, in fact the only time they didn’t finish last and second last (not including classified finishes) was when Pedro de la Rosa beat Timo Glock at the German Grand Prix. Assuming they kept this record up, the highest finish they would have had this year would have been 16th at this year’s Monegasque GP.

Thus I think it’s fair to say that they wouldn’t have provided much of a threat to points or either Marussia or Caterham. With the right driver, they may have demoted Chilton a place, but that would probably have been the limit of their success.

Drivers

Considering they only competed for 3 season, Hispania had an incredible 8 drivers compete in a race (and a total of 11 completing a session over a GP weekend). Let’s have a look at how the drivers and whether firstly, HRT helped them as a driver, and secondly if they helped the sport by having drivers worthy of the right, as opposed to pay drivers.

Karun Chandhok – Linked with Force India before HRT drive, probably deserved to show his ability, but ultimately never progressed.
Bruno Senna – Unlucky not to be in Brawn for 2009, HRT made the grid better with Bruno’s hiring and it certainly help him get drives at Lotus and Williams.
Sakon Yamamoto – Had races at Super Aguri and Spyker, making him “the experienced one” at HRT. Neither F1 nor the driver benefitted from the decision to let him race, he finished last at every race he entered for Hispania (not including classified finishes).
Christian Klien – Had had his time in F1 with Jaguar and Red Bull, he out qualified Senna by a second in his first qualifying with HRT, but drove only 3 races and hasn’t driven an F1 car since.
Narain Karthikeyan – Apart from being an Indian in an Indian GP he added little to the grid (and beating future RB driver Ricciardo), hasn’t found F1 employment since.
Vitantonio Liuzzi – Having been dropped by Force India he scored Hispania’s best result of 13th, and he provided a good benchmark to see how quick Ricciardo was.
Daniel Ricciardo – The high point of Hispania drivers, Red Bull dropped him in the seat and it gave him some key experience. Though always likely to get the Toro Rosso seat anyway, the Hispania experience almost certainly helped him and Hispania definitely helped the sport with his employment.
Pedro de la Rosa – If paired alongside a rookie he could have been part of a great pairing, as it was he partnered Karthikeyan and 2012 was pretty dismal for the team.

In summary.
GOOD: Senna, Ricciardo
OK: Chandhok, Liuzzi, de la Rosa
BAD: Klien, Yamamoto, Karthikeyan

NB: None of Dani Clos, Ma Qinghua and Jan Charouz (the team’s test drivers) have driven in a F1 Grand Prix. Ma has driven in test sessions for Caterham.

For 2013, HRT had confirmed de la Rosa and Karthikeyan, but Antonio Felix da Costa could easily have been flighted in and potentially got himself the Toro Rosso seat. Other talented youngsters could also have potentially won themselves a test session or two.

Presence

For me, this is the key reason as to why I miss HRT. They may have been forever at the back, but if one more team goes bankrupt (Lotus, Force India, Sauber, Marussia are all in danger) then only 20 drivers can make the grid. Looking ahead to 2014, Magnussen, Sainz Jr, da Costa, Vandoorne could be driving for next season.

Overall

Yes, F1 misses HRT:

  • Could promote young talent
  • Expanded the grid
  • Would give Cosworth a team in 2014 – more engine suppliers

No, F1 doesn’t miss HRT:

  • Pay drivers and has beens drove for them
  • Were never going to challenge for points and didn’t seem to progress

Originally a post on an F1 forum under alias Paco Montoya, view here

 

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