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Hispania not out of their depth

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Sarah Holt | 14:26 UK time, Thursday, 24 June 2010

As Formula 1 PR duties go, Hispania drivers Karun Chandhok and Bruno Senna could have it a lot worse.

The Spanish team likes to broaden its drivers' horizons away from the insular world of F1, and so after jet-skiing in Malaysia, firefighting in Monaco and hospital visits in Istanbul came dolphin training in Valencia.

Would a few lessons from the Oceanografic - Europe's largest aquarium - help the F1 minnows cope with the sport's big fish?

"We enjoy ourselves a little bit away from the track," said Senna, who was a natural at coaxing dolphins Venus and Virkin into jumps and spins after some coaching tips from the trainers.

"The dolphins are very curious animals, it's amazing. Did you see that? That one did like five back flips!"

Chandhok was less keen on getting close to the water's edge.

"He's scared of water in general," teased Senna.

"Well that's not true," Chandhok retorted. "But I am a bit afraid of the dolphins. Their mouths are massive.

"I saw Jaws too many times as a child so I must still be traumatised. Take me to a dog park and I'll be OK."

Chandhok and Senna are still learning how to mix with F1's big fish as they approach the halfway point in their rookie seasons.

In qualifying for the last grand prix in Canada, Senna's leading Hispania was 3.359 seconds off the pace of Lewis Hamilton's McLaren, which took pole.

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As that difference in one-lap pace accumulates over a race distance, the Hispanias - along with other new teams Lotus and Virgin - have found themselves impeding their front-running competitors.

In Montreal, Chandhok's Hispania delayed Fernando Alonso's Ferrari to such an extent that the Spaniard lost second place to Jenson Button's McLaren and he had earlier lost the chance to take the lead from Button's team-mate Lewis Hamilton when he was delayed by Jarno Trulli's Lotus. Alonso said afterwards that traffic cost him a chance of victory.

But Chandhok believes dealing with slower cars has always been part of racing in F1 and it is something all 24 cars in the field will have to get used to.

"Drivers have been blocked or cost time by slower cars for decades in F1," argued Chandhok.

"When Ayrton Senna used to drive he was a specialist at beating people through traffic.

"I wasn't in the way or trying to intentionally block Alonso. I was trying to get out of the way.
"To be fair, drivers like Fernando haven't ever really complained about the new teams.

"I know his team have been quite vocal about it but Fernando's driven a Minardi so he knows what it's like to be five or six seconds off the pace and he's always been very supportive."

Senna added: "When you are fighting for position with faster cars you do try to block them but it doesn't last for too long unfortunately."

The priority for the Hispania drivers in the second half of the second is to close the gap on rookie rivals Lotus - ahead by 1.247 seconds in Montreal - and Virgin Racing.

The team have already made solid progress since turning up for the opening race in Bahrain without turning a wheel in pre-season testing.

Hispania were almost 10 seconds off the pace in Bahrain but six races later in Istanbul Senna out-qualified another car - Lucas di Grassi's Virgin - on merit for the first time and in Montreal Senna was just 0.543 secs adrift of Timo Glock's leading Virgin.

"We want to be the best of the new teams by Abu Dhabi," added Chandhok.

"It may not happen in terms of the championship position because we would have lost half a season but if we can compete against Lotus, even if it's the last third of the season, it puts us and the team into a more credible position going into 2011.

"We have made progress. We've had more reliability than the other two news teams this year but in terms of performance, it is stalemate."

Comments

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  • 1. At 4:37pm on 24 Jun 2010, Lord_Lancashire wrote:

    These new teams have all done exceptionally well, given the startling lack of preparation pre-season. They must be given full credit.

    Chandhok is right - F1 has always had the slower teams who are inevitably going to hold up the faster drivers. Unfortunately, the drivers for the slowest teams always get the brunt of this, but maybe the fast guys should just cool it, and learn to handle situations with slower cars more professionally.

    As for Alonso, he would NEVER have won that Canadian Grand Prix. Dream on Fernando...

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  • 2. At 5:46pm on 24 Jun 2010, CTP wrote:

    To anyone that thinks these dolphins are cute/fun/lovable, do some research on how they got there, and what kind of a life the live. The movie The Cove is a good place to start.

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  • 3. At 6:58pm on 24 Jun 2010, cordas wrote:

    I just want to know the teams and team bosses (Its been a long time since I heard any leader driver complain about lapping slower cars in any serious manner) suggest what should happen? Do they think they should be black flagged or something, and if so how would feel if they got black flagged when competing for places in front.... Its just the usual pit lane comments to be made when someone wants a bit of PR for their team.

    I think all 3 new teams should be commended for the obvious passion and effort they are putting into racing this season. Their task has been made far more difficult by the lack of track and testing time they have experienced and the double whammy of not having the resources / skills and to a lesser extent experience when compared to the more established teams.

    I would have liked to see an extra free practice session maybe available over the weekend for teams and or drivers on 0 points (you could maybe raise the points threshold by 5 at each quarter point of the season). F1 is a ferocious sport to enter to do so with so little allowed preparation is counter productive... Yes costs need to be cut and reducing testing is a valid way to do that, but we also want to see more racing and one way to help that happen is to tighten up the grid and allowing more practice time to the back markers would help them to do so. It would also be a good chance to lay down more rubber and give rookies more experience.

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  • 4. At 7:24pm on 24 Jun 2010, Simon wrote:

    Lord_Lancashire (first comment) is absolute correct - the new teams have done a good job so far. Imagine how chipper Ferrari would be if they'd gained the best-part of 7 seconds on their rivals after half the season.

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  • 5. At 00:07am on 25 Jun 2010, TheBraveDoNotFearTheGrav3 wrote:

    Nice one Sarah i love to read how these guys are getting on there my 2 favorite drivers on the grid at the moment bar the British duo at mclaren.

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  • 6. At 08:56am on 25 Jun 2010, thepowerofnone wrote:

    Lord_Lancashire - while I agree with the success story that is the new teams - especially Lotus I feel you are well out of your depth to say that Alonso would never have won. Without traffic he would certainly have been leading and it would have required a McLaren to pass him. Admittedly not impossible but it is a massive leap to say 'it would have happened'. While with Hamilton one cannot really know because it happened through the pits, with Button he didn't look like he was going to make it past any time soon before Alonso got slowed.

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  • 7. At 10:41am on 25 Jun 2010, Ginger wrote:

    Nice to get a little insight from the back of the grid. I couldn't see FA winning in Canada although it did cost him 2nd place. He had good pace but was always on the back foot compared to the McLaren's.

    Will the 'new' teams make progress next year? Lotus will, Virgin might but not sure about Hispania. Where is the cash?

    Lewis for the Hat-Trick.

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  • 8. At 10:44am on 25 Jun 2010, cordas wrote:

    What do you mean Button never looked like passing Alonso? He was closing him down at over a second a lap before Alonso got caught up behind the HRT, there is every bit as much chance of him overtaking as there was of Lewis overtaking Fernando.

    The McLarens showed that they had superior pace in both clean and dirty air to the Ferrari, Alonso drove a great race and whilst unlucky with traffic didn't display the same ability to turn the wick up as Lewis and Jenson did, and given the precarious tyre situations that all the teams suffered it is I agree with your initial premise in saying that its practically impossible to call any results bar those that actually happened.

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  • 9. At 12:52pm on 25 Jun 2010, livpoksoc wrote:

    I was just about to type the exact same comment as cordas.

    LH & JB were both catching Alonso, Ferrari didn't have their F-Duct fitted, that long back straight would have seen him go backwards to the McLaren's, traffic or not.

    I like the guys @ HRT, even though I know nothing of the team management the drivers seem likeable and are professional. I'd much rather see the grid frozen for next year though, why bring in more teams amid the overflowing grid anyway!

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  • 10. At 3:51pm on 25 Jun 2010, Daryl wrote:

    I agree with TheBraveDoNotFearTheGrav3 - and think Karun and Bruno are both drivers with great futures ahead of them in F1. They both seem pretty grounded (so far as you can ever tell!) and they have something about them. Maybe it's because they don't seem like automatons like some of the other drivers.

    After the 2 Brit boys at Mclaren, these 2 are the ones I am wishing on.

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  • 11. At 9:16pm on 30 Jun 2010, colm49 wrote:

    Ferrari have been making a lot of noise recently about the new teams presence in Formula 1 and they shouldn't be there. Formula 1 is not about Ferrari and the other big boys, Formula 1 without the privateers/small teams couldn't exist. Schumacher/Alonso and the majority of the top drivers all started their careers with small private teams because Ferrari and the likes wouldn't give them an opportunity to show their skills.
    Formula 1 doesn't need Ferrari, but it certainly needs the small private teams.

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