The head of Spain’s motor racing federation has lambasted Hispania Racing after it became the first team to record a double-DNQ since Arrows at the 2002 French Grand Prix.
The team’s untested F111 cars weren’t built until later into the Grand Prix weekend, leaving drivers Vitantonio Liuzzi and Narain Karthikeyan the opportunity to complete a handful of practice laps before Saturday’s qualifying session. Not surprisingly, both failed to register a lap time within 107% of Sebastian Vettel’s quickest lap in Q1.
Carlos Gracia, Spain’s chief FIA representative and a member of the World Motor Sport Council, told Radio Marca that he was “annoyed with the attitude” of the team’s management, but denied being disappointed in the result.
“You could see this coming,” he said, adding that if the team continued with this level of performance, he would “prefer there was no Spanish team in Formula 1.”
Indeed, reports from the Albert Park paddock claim that the entire media centre burst into a round of sarcastic applause when Liuzzi completed the team’s first shakedown lap in the last minutes of second practice on Friday.
“I want a Spanish team that is serious and with the necessary budgets, not a team that is made a fool of,” Gracia added. “Hispania has not done its homework. You cannot be in Formula 1 in such precarious condition.”
The delays in building the cobbled-together F111 were down to the staggered arrival of parts for the car “as we paid the suppliers”, one unnamed source in the team said.
With much of the team’s freight having missed the cargo planes to Australia, many team members carried car parts in their personal luggage, with team boss Colin Kolles’ luggage rejected by airline staff on account of its weight.
Even former F1 driver-turned-commentator Christian Danner admitted to donating some space in his luggage for parts, and told Bild newspaper: “I had a little sympathy [for their plight].”
But the same cannot be said for others in the paddock, with the newspaper reporting that much of the paddock “is laughing at Hispania”.
“Just because I ride a bike with my friends on a Sunday doesn’t mean I think I can ride in the next Tour on [Alberto] Contador’s wheel,” he wrote. “I would be ridiculed for not understanding the magnitude of the challenge.”
And even the stewards – who have previously given dispensation for ‘exceptional circumstances’ in previous instances of non-qualification – could find no grounds to let the team compete at the race.
“I felt bad but you cannot compete in Formula 1 on the cheap,” the panel’s guest steward, former Grand Prix driver Johnny Herbert wrote in The National newspaper.
“Hopefully this setback will give the team the kick they need to get ready to compete properly in Malaysia with the right funding.”