Narain Karthikeyan says HRT's new F112 is a definite step up from the team's 2011 F1 car.
Karthikeyan got his first laps in the car at Barcelona on Monday, with HRT taking advantage of filming day regulations after missing all three preseason tests due to problems passing the mandatory FIA crash tests. Although he was only to get in a few laps toward the end of the day, Karthikeyan said he was confident the car was an improvement on last year.
"I was the first driver to drive it, and the first impressions were quite good," he explained. "[It is] definitely a step up from last year. We were on demo rubber so really [couldn't] do any setup work, but everything seemed to work fine, no major problems and we look forward to the season now.
"Everyone has worked hard, new team management has put everything together in a very short time and they have done a proper job with the car. I am sure that it is definitely a big step forward from last year so hopefully we can take the competition to the closest teams we were fighting, Virgin [Marussia] and Caterham."
Although he has yet to shakedown the F112, Pedro de la Rosa said the completion of the first run was hugely significant for the team.
"These laps are so important for Australia, giving us the confidence of knowing that the car will run reliably," he said. "Narain did the laps but the result is very positive, the car has no problems. There is a lot more work we need to do to improve it and make it faster but so far so good; the car has been born in good shape."