Hello, you are listening to Sidepodcast's F1 Advent Calendar 2010, and this is Day 15. We're racing through the season, picking out key points for each day and examining how they shaped the year gone by. Today, we're looking at just one of the new teams . Day 15 - Four’s a crowd.
HRT started the year with two rookie drivers - Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok. The pair quickly proved themselves capable in the car, although their pace and relative performance was hard to judge given the machinery they had to work with. More importantly, they became a popular duo in the paddock, and to the fans. There were plenty of PR opportunities for the two of them, including a stint with some local firemen, some interaction with friendly dolphins, and lots of photos of them taking photos of each other.
Hispania were one of the few teams who started to run a different driver on a Friday morning, replacing one or other of their regular drivers with a new face to give their reserve guys a chance in the car. Christian Klien got a go in Spain, whilst Sakon Yamamoto was granted the opportunity in Turkey. At the time, this seemed like a worthy practice. It never hurts to have drivers around who actually know what it's like to turn a wheel in the car.
Just ahead of the British Grand Prix, HRT shocked everyone with the announcement that Bruno Senna had been dropped and Sakon Yamamoto would be taking his place. There was no reasoning given, and no real explanation of what kind of deal this was. Had Bruno been replaced indefinitely? Was Sakon and Karun the new lineup? We didn't know.
The team finally clarified that Senna was still with them, and Sakon was just being given some time in the car. At the following race, in Germany, it was Chandhok who took a back seat, whilst Bruno and Sakon became the driver line-up of choice. It was clear, now, that the team were evaluating the relative merits of the drivers, with money, funding and sponsorship being one of the key performance indicators.
Sadly for Karun, he was the spare wheel of the three, whilst Senna and Yamamoto continued onwards race by race. This was not the end of the story, though. In Singapore, it was suddenly announced that Christian Klien would be taking the place of Sakon Yamamoto, and the story went that the Japanese driver had fallen ill with food poisoning. I cannot make any claim to the contrary, only to say that there were reports of Sakon sightings, and he didn't look all that unwell to those in Singapore.
Conveniently, he was back in the car for the next race in Japan, his home Grand Prix. He and Senna continued their partnership for Korea, and then it was Klien and Senna for the final two races in Brazil and Abu Dhabi. This revolving door of drivers was getting very confusing, but there was only one thing clear - Chandhok wasn't getting back in the car anytime soon. At first he had remained with the team, but by the end of the year, they were not even bringing him out to every race, and sometimes he was sat tweeting at home like the rest of us.
With budgets tightening anyway, and a new team with a lot of work to do, HRT cannot be entirely blamed for bringing in drivers for funding but it is rarely a popular move, particularly with the incredibly fan-friendly Chandhok. We can only hope that for 2011, they have a bit more stability within the team, if not for their sake, then for ours.
That's all for this episode of the F1 Advent Calendar for 2010. I miss Chandhok, don't you? Let me know your thoughts on HRT's driver policy in the comments on Sidepodcast.com, and please join me again tomorrow when we move on to Day 16.
All content in the series F1 Advent Calendar 2010
Filed under Mini Series
References Bruno Senna, Christian Klien, Karun Chandhok, Sakon Yamamoto
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