Mar.11 (GMM) After the garage doors stayed closed all day Wednesday, the Cosworth engine in the back of the HRT car marked ‘Bruno Senna’ barked into life in the Bahrain pitlane on Thursday.
In perfect weather conditions at the Sakhir circuit, mechanics were also busily preparing the other single seater, destined to accommodate Karun Chandhok, ahead of the Friday free practice ‘shakedown’.
The news follows rumours that the cars had not yet arrived in the island Kingdom from Europe, after the former Campos team’s last minute scrabble to be ready for the 2010 season.
But while the performance of the Spanish team’s Dallara-designed car for now remains a mystery, Mercedes reserve driver Nick Heidfeld tipped Lotus to be ahead of F1’s third new team this weekend.
“The balance of the Virgin is a disaster,” said the German, recalling his trackside vantage point at the recent February tests in conversation with Auto Motor und Sport.
“It (the Virgin) was worse than my Jordan in 2004. In contrast, the Lotus looks much better balanced with much more downforce than the Virgin, but – in comparison to the others – less grip and poor traction,” Heidfeld added.
But amid much criticism of the sport’s lagging new entrants, Mercedes’ Norbert Haug called on the F1 world to give them more “respect”.
“The new teams have some big steps in front of them but they also need some more time, and so I give them a lot of respect,” said the German.