Pedro de la Rosa Q&A: HRT wont be at the back for long 02 Aug 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: Were at the halfway stage of the season, what assessment do you make of these first months?
Pedro de la Rosa: Theyve been seven very intense months, with a spectacular amount of teamwork, which Ive taken on with a lot of hunger and desire. Weve made steady progress but now were at a key moment and we must take another step forward. My assessment is very positive because we set ourselves realistic targets, weve accomplished them and were, more or less, where we expected to be. Weve 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. Were accomplishing them and with flying colours at times. We started outside the 107% in Australia and weve 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. Weve surpassed it and have potential to do more. In our case, its 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 weve got much more room for improvement. For now weve accomplished our objectives but there are still many races to set ourselves more ambitious targets.
Q: With your experience at big teams it cant 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: Im 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 were 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 weve got a fantastic headquarters that has transformed the team. Weve got a base from which the team is growing day by day. No one has stopped pushing, no matter what the situation. And weve felt supported. Its not easy being at the back and finishing last. But what motivates us every day is that we see that were improving and we believe that we wont be at the back for long. Its very nice to see that, despite the fact that its 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. Theres a lot of sincerity and we both want whats best for the team. We fight hard on the track but in an honest way and, out of the team mates Ive had, hes 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. Were aware that were 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. Were team players.
Dani [Clos] is a great driver and an important part of the team because hes got a great sense of humour and he makes things seem less dramatic with his characteristic humour. Thats very important for the team and everyone appreciates him. But hes also very professional and knows how to work well. When hes driven on Fridays hes contributed a lot.
Ma [Qing Hua] has integrated very well. Hes the future of China and a driver that must play an important role in HRT Formula 1 Team. Hes 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 whats your relationship with the team principal, Luis Perez-Sala, like?
PdlR: Luis is one of the main reasons Im at the team. Ive always held him in the highest regard and I have blind faith in him. Hes 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 its the nicest in the championship, but almost all of its corners are quick and thats going to give us a lot of problems. So the circuit Im 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 Im least looking forward to are Suzuka and Spa because theyre 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 its 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 its 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 Im going to Mallorca, to a small town on the east coast. Ive spent my summers there since I was three years old and I have my childhood friends there and Im going with my wife and three daughters who Im 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. Were thankful for their support and were 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 were improving every day, cutting down the difference, and building a serious project for all us to feel proud about.
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