Christian Klien believes HRT's Formula 1 car falls far short of the standards he has been used to, following his first experience of the car in free practice at the Spanish Grand Prix.
The Austrian has been signed as a test and reserve driver, and will be given runs in Friday practice sessions to try and help the team find improvements with the set-up of the Dallara-built car. Although he has completed just a single session so far, Klien said he already understands in what areas the HRT cars is not good enough.
"Obviously this car is not quite on an F1 standard – there is just a lack of downforce big time that the car has," said Klien in Barcelona. "Also the small details on the car are not as good as the top cars, so it is quite easy to get in the car and tell the engineers many things on where the other cars are better.
"For me, it was quite clear after the first 20 laps what the major problems with the car were, and hopefully with more and more feedback we can improve the car. I think even without putting new stuff on the car there is still lap time in the car. I think half a second to one second, for sure, just by working more on setup things. The electronics too, to help make the car more driveable because it is quite hard on track – it's difficult to be consistent."
Klien believes HRT needs to make a decision about whether to invest money in improving the car or to start thinking already about simply focusing on its 2011 machine.
"The question is how much money you want to put in this car," he explained. "It is quite clear that you are not going to win anything with this chassis, so you need to build a new car from scratch, basically.
"But the season is still quite long, and the team – at least I got that feeling this week – they still want to improve this car. And I think there is half a second to one second in this car that you can improve without putting expensive new parts on the car."