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Pedro de la Rosa Q&A: HRT won't be at the back for long 02 Aug 2012

Pedro De La Rosa (ESP) HRT Formula One Team HRT F112.
Formula One World Championship, Rd10, German Grand Prix, Race, Hockenheim, Germany, Sunday, 22 July 2012 Pedro de la Rosa (ESP) HRT F112 ahead of Narain Karthikeyan (IND) HRT F112.
Formula One World Championship, Rd11, Hungarian Grand Prix, Race Day, Budapest, Hungary, Sunday, 29 July 2012 Pedro De La Rosa (ESP) HRT Formula One Team HRT F112 on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Race Day, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 13 May 2012 Pedro De La Rosa (ESP) HRT Formula One Team HRT F112.
Formula One World Championship, Rd7, Canadian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Montreal, Canada, Friday, 8 June 2012 Pedro De La Rosa (ESP) HRT Formula One Team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix Preparations, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Thursday, 19 April 2012 Narain Karthikeyan (IND) HRT Formula One Team and Pedro De La Rosa (ESP) HRT Formula One Team.,
Formula One World Championship, Rd7, Canadian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Montreal, Canada, Saturday, 9 June 2012 HRT Formula One Team team photograph. (L to R): Dani Clos (ESP) HRT Formula One Team HRT F112 Third Driver; Pedro De La Rosa (ESP) HRT Formula One Team; Narain Karthikeyan (IND) HRT Formula One Team; Ma Qing Hua (CHN) HRT Formula One Team HRT F112 Develop (L to R): Pedro De La Rosa (ESP) HRT Formula 1 Team and Luis Perez-Sala (ESP) HRT Formula One Team, Team Prinicpal.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Practice, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 16 March 2012 Pedro De La Rosa (ESP) HRT Formula One Team HRT F112.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, European Grand Prix, Race Day, Valencia, Spain, Sunday, 24 June 2012 Pedro De La Rosa (ESP) HRT Formula One Team in the Press Conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, European Grand Prix, Preparations, Valencia, Spain, Thursday, 21 June 2012 Pedro De La Rosa (ESP) HRT Formula One Team signs autographs.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, European Grand Prix, Preparations, Valencia, Spain, Thursday, 21 June 2012

HRT and Pedro de la Rosa are writing a golden page in the history of Spanish motorsport this season, as a Spanish team and a Spanish driver contest an entire Formula One world championship campaign together for the first time. At the age of 41, Barcelona-born De la Rosa is taking on his 14th F1 season, but he maintains the same motivation and hunger as the first day to ensure that HRT consolidates itself in the pinnacle of racing...

Q: We’re at the halfway stage of the season, what assessment do you make of these first months?
Pedro de la Rosa:
They’ve been seven very intense months, with a spectacular amount of teamwork, which I’ve taken on with a lot of hunger and desire. We’ve made steady progress but now we’re at a key moment and we must take another step forward. My assessment is very positive because we set ourselves realistic targets, we’ve accomplished them and we’re, more or less, where we expected to be. We’ve still got to improve more and we have nine races ahead in which to do so.

Q: The start was complicated but the team is working better together and improving day by day. Would you say the objectives set at the start of the season are being accomplished?
PdlR:
Without a doubt. We’re accomplishing them and with flying colours at times. We started outside the 107% in Australia and we’ve reached peaks of 103.6% in Monaco and our best qualifying result which was 103.4% in Valencia. That was a very ambitious target that we set ourselves because, for us, to be close to 104% is a realistic objective. We’ve surpassed it and have potential to do more. In our case, it’s going to be easier to improve in this second half of the season than it will be for a big team that is striving for perfection because we’ve got much more room for improvement. For now we’ve accomplished our objectives but there are still many races to set ourselves more ambitious targets.

Q: With your experience at big teams it can’t have been easy to arrive at such a humble team as this one. On a personal note, how do you face this challenge and what is most rewarding about it?
PdlR:
I’m taking it on as a challenge, well aware that challenges are never easy and that in Formula One no one hands you anything. But in my opinion we’re doing a good job, with humility, work and pride. The most rewarding thing is to work with the people from the team and see that in very difficult conditions, and with much less people than other teams, they work day and night with the conviction that we can beat our rivals. The team is going through a period of change and growth and now we’ve got a fantastic headquarters that has transformed the team. We’ve got a base from which the team is growing day by day. No one has stopped pushing, no matter what the situation. And we’ve felt supported. It’s not easy being at the back and finishing last. But what motivates us every day is that we see that we’re improving and we believe that we won’t be at the back for long. It’s very nice to see that, despite the fact that it’s been very tough, we believe in that step forward.

Q: How is your relationship with your team mates? What would you highlight about each one?
PdlR:
My relationship with Narain [Karthikeyan] is very good. There’s a lot of sincerity and we both want what’s best for the team. We fight hard on the track but in an honest way and, out of the team mates I’ve had, he’s one of the most sincere ones. We try to achieve the best set-up on the car between the two of us without hiding anything from each other. One of the characteristics of Narain and the engineers is that there is total transparency and no bad intentions. We’re aware that we’re last and if one of us finds something that can improve the car he shares it with the other because the objective is to progress. We’re team players.

Dani [Clos] is a great driver and an important part of the team because he’s got a great sense of humour and he makes things seem less dramatic with his characteristic humour. That’s very important for the team and everyone appreciates him. But he’s also very professional and knows how to work well. When he’s driven on Friday’s he’s contributed a lot.

Ma [Qing Hua] has integrated very well. He’s the future of China and a driver that must play an important role in HRT Formula 1 Team. He’s probably the first Chinese driver with enough quality to be a Formula One driver and he left us all flabbergasted at the young driver test in Silverstone with his great performance.

Q: And what’s your relationship with the team principal, Luis Perez-Sala, like?
PdlR:
Luis is one of the main reasons I’m at the team. I’ve always held him in the highest regard and I have blind faith in him. He’s never going to deceive me and I like to work with people who you can trust in and with whom there are no secrets. With Luis what you see is what you get. Sincerity is our strength and that gives us a lot of agility when making decisions.

Q: The F112 had a complicated birth but is a car with potential. What would you say are its strengths and weaknesses?
PdlR:
Its main strength is that it has a great mechanical platform of suspension and chassis and it has proved it at circuits where that is important. It is also reliable. Its weakness is its lack of downforce compared to other cars. We know exactly where we lose time and why, so we must work on that.

Q: Of the circuits to come, which are you most looking forward to racing at? And the least?
PdlR:
This is a trick question because my favourite circuit is Suzuka, since in my opinion it’s the nicest in the championship, but almost all of its corners are quick and that’s going to give us a lot of problems. So the circuit I’m most looking forward to is Monza because it has long straights and strong braking corners, and our car performs very well in this kind of circuits. The ones I’m least looking forward to are Suzuka and Spa because they’re going to be very complicated for us.

Q: What would you consider a success once the season is finished?
PdlR:
If we manage to qualify inside the 103% it will be a complete success. Especially doing so without KERS and a much less effective DRS system than the other teams. But it’s going to be very difficult because at the last Grands Prix the difference has been a bit bigger. If we manage to be under 104% with the aero package for Singapore it will be a great finish to the season and the necessary momentum to start next season strongly.

Q: But now it’s time to rest a bit to face an intense second half of the season. What plans do you have for the holidays?
PdlR:
Like every year I’m going to Mallorca, to a small town on the east coast. I’ve spent my summers there since I was three years old and I have my childhood friends there and I’m going with my wife and three daughters who I’m really looking forward to spending as much time as possible with.

Q: A message for the fans?
PdlR:
The same one as at the start of the season. We’re thankful for their support and we’re here because of them. I thank them for their patience because I understand that the fans want us to be fighting at the front. But they also see that we’re improving every day, cutting down the difference, and building a serious project for all us to feel proud about.

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