The FIA has ruled that neither Hispania Racing entry will be allowed to start the Australian Grand Prix, after Vitantonio Liuzzi and Narain Karthikeyan failed to post a qualifying time within 107% of the opening session’s quickest time.
The sport’s governing body rejected HRT’s application for consideration due to “exceptional circumstances”, with both drivers having next to no running after delays in assembling their new cars during the weekend.
The 107% time they needed to beat – calculated against Sebastian Vettel’s fastest lap time of the session – was a 1:31.266. As it was, Liuzzi’s fastest time was a 1:32.978 and Karthikeyan’s was 1:34.293.
Despite the decision, both drivers were upbeat in the press release issued later on by the team, praising the enormous effort put in by their mechanics over the weekend.
“We are upset because we are not in the 107% but we are looking forward to Malaysia where we will be up to speed. We have to be happy with what we’ve done, the lap time was more than what we expected and we believe that our car will be much better in the future. It is true that everything was a little bit critical because we ended up not qualifying, but we just have to be proud of the job done by the team,” Liuzzi is quoted as saying.
“We faced a lot of difficulties getting here and the effort put in by the whole team this week has been huge, but the rules are the rules. Now we’re focused on the next race. I am positive and am sure that everything will go well in Malaysia.”
Liuzzi also indicated as to the potential of the new F111 by pointing out that he had managed to post a faster lap in qualifying – after just half a dozen laps and with no baseline set-up – than any of the four Virgin Racing or Team Lotus cars had managed in the opening practice session.
Team boss Colin Kolles added: “In the end it just couldn’t be, still I’m incredibly proud of my whole team. Our drivers produced the maximum in the least amount of time possible. We managed to get both cars ready in time for qualifying and proved that the car is capable of running a lot quicker than today.
“The circumstances in which we arrived were not as desired. We created a miracle again, but it wasn’t enough. We’ll be back stronger than ever in Malaysia. There we will have more time to test the car and show where the F111 really belongs.”
The result means that the team will be the first since Arrows’ deliberate double-DNQ at the 2002 French Grand Prix.
[Original image via Sutton Images]