The mood at HRT
this weekend is dire, with the ailing Spanish team's staff making it known "we are unemployed and available", according to the sports daily Marca. At the beginning of the week, owner Thesan Capital said it is seeking a buyer for the backmarker. Spanish media reports said if that doesn't happen by the day after the 2012 finale in Brazil, all staff will be retrenched. 32 have already been let go.
An unnamed HRT engineer said: "Curiously, two of them, a simulation engineer from McLaren
GT and one from Marussia
, were only in the office five days. "We were working on next year's car, trying to improve. It has caught us all by surprise."
Another, a mechanic, said the HRT offices are now "empty". "We have been told that our last day could be November 26. If we are here (in Austin), it is because they (Thesan) have contracts with the FIA and FOM, forcing them to compete."
Another unnamed HRT team member said the team came close to being sold to a Qatari group, but the deal broke down at the last minute. That has triggered the current situation. "I think the grid next year will have only 22 cars," someone with knowledge of the situation is quoted as saying.
The source added: "It is true that someone could come and take the team for a reduced price, but time is the factor. The 2013 car design has been stopped and that's the most important thing, putting two cars on the grid. The license is what counts, but first you need a car."
An HRT team member said: "We are not closing due to a lack of liquidity, but simply because Thesan has decided it is no longer profitable. They have already lost interest in F1." (GMM)