Hispania Racing team boss Colin Kolles sees no reason why his squad cannot overhaul fellow 2010 newcomers Lotus and Virgin in the future, and believes its new F111 will bring it up to date with contemporary Formula 1 design after its poor debut year.
The 2010 HRT – which was originally created by Dallara before the relationship between the Italian constructor and the team broke down – was the slowest car in the field throughout last season. But Hispania is close to finishing an all-new 2011 car, the design of which has been led by former Williams, BAR Honda and Red Bull man Geoff Willis.
"There are experienced people working on the car. For sure, we had no optimum winter, but we have a completely new car, and we will work on it and try to improve it," Kolles told AUTOSPORT. "The car doesn't look too bad; it looks like a modern F1 car. We'll see where we are – I cannot tell you at the moment. I think we'll be better in performance than last year, and this is what the indications are at this stage.
"We have to face reality. It's not just having a new car, we have to see what we do with the new car in the future. I think that we will have a good CFD program in place, a very strong one, and then we'll see where we will be. You have to have an efficient development program.
"For me, one of the surprises last year was that we were running the same car, but the gap was getting smaller and not bigger. I cannot explain it. Maybe our drivers got better! This is a fact – you can see that the percentage that we were slower got smaller.
"I think that if we have the time and if we have our programs in place, Lotus is not going to be an issue for us. And also Virgin. Because I trust in the people we have, and also the quality of the people I have. I'm not scared at all..."
Despite regular rumors about HRT's financial health last year, Kolles believes there are other teams in worse positions than his.
"People said you are not going to make it to Bahrain, we made it," he said. "Then they said you are not going to end the season, and we ended the season. They said you are not going to be in the Abu Dhabi test, and we were in the Abu Dhabi test. Then they said you are not going to be at the Valencia test, and we were.
"What shall I say? Of course we need sponsors, of course we need investors, and of course we need partners. Like everybody else. I have been criticized for having a lot of test drivers in the past. I mean, what are the others doing, with third class drivers? I'm very sorry, but people have to face reality, and see the facts.
"I think that other teams are in deeper trouble than we are, that's number one. I don't know why we are always asked the same question. I repeat myself – I think that in terms of budget and in terms of budget requirements and in terms of debts and so on, we are in very good shape compared to others.
"Our main strategy is to be long term in F1. How you reach this point, we know there are maybe different ways, but this is the goal. Maybe others have different goals. I cannot judge on this."