Following Auto GP's announcement last week that the championship will feature a new car in 2013, series boss Enzo Coloni spoke to AUTOSPORT about its future direction.
Q: Following the announcement of a new Auto GP car for next year, what more can you say about the championship's plans for 2013?
Enzo Coloni: We have two options, but in either case we will keep the same Zytek engine and gearbox as we are currently using. The first possibility is to change the monocoque and the bodywork, as we really want to change them to look more similar to Formula 1 cars. There could some be other little mechanical changes, but it won't be a big change on that side.
The other solution would be to keep the Lola monocoque [the former A1GP design used since 2010 in Auto GP] and just change the bodywork, but the monocoque is our focus. For us, in the best solution it would be necessary to change the monocoque as well.
Q. Which considerations will influence the choice you make?
EC: The problems are time and budget. For me, it is necessary to have finished the car by September , or at the latest by the start of October. We have already started the drawings, and by around the May 30 we will have finished them. Then we will make a decision, based on cost and time, which option we go with. But I am sure the car will change. At the minimum it will be a change of bodywork, but in my opinion we should also change the monocoque.
Q: Are all the drawings being made in-house? Could you put the new chassis out to tender to a specialist constructor like Tatuus or Dallara, for example?
EC: It will be a Coloni construction monocoque, built in my factory. Of course, I have collaborators. There's no need to go to other companies such as Tatuus or Dallara. The project is completely in my factory. For me, the job is simple as I have a good relationship with the engineers. A new car is necessary now and it is possible that we could increase the performance, but that is not really my aim.
Q: The teams that AUTOSPORT has spoken to in the paddock say they like the current low-cost concept of Auto GP, and are keen for this philosophy is retained next year. How do you react to this?
EC: I am very pleased with the increase in quality of teams we have this year. The cost is an important thing to consider for the teams. My plan is a new car and one or two more races next year. I would like to go to Russia and also to run in Japan. It's possible that the budget could go up, but it won't be a big increase. We are focused on the balance between performance and cost.
Q: Will it be a big undertaking for you to produce a car? Will you have to employing more staff at the Coloni factory, for example?
EC: No, I am specialist. We have experience in projects like this, as we built the old Formula Nissan car [the CN1 being the last full Dallara chassis in 1998]. As I said, we have started now and then in one month we will finish the drawings. If it is only the bodywork [that is changed], then we will say: 'The cost is this and the time is this'. If it is the bodywork and monocoque together then we will say: 'it is this, this and this'.
Q: Will you make the decision alone, or will the teams have a say in the process?
EC: I like to work together with the teams and hear their opinion. The teams like this. It's necessary to work together. At the final date, on the May 20 or May 30, we will finish the project totally and we will show them the options.
Q: Were there any other avenues open to you, for example using the Ferrari-powered A1GP cars?
EC: I like the car, but I don't know about the cost. The problem with the Ferrari A1GP car is that it's impossible, so no, no, no. I like the Ferrari engine; I am an Italian! But for us, it's very important to keep control of the costs. We would have to modify that car a lot. We have to be realistic to keep the balance of performance and cost. That car would be really very complicated. To modify that old car or mount a new chassis in that car is impossible. I have a clear idea of the best way. To buy the old A1 car, the cost of maintenance for the teams would rocket.
Q: How do you see Auto GP's position in the single-seater pyramid?
EC: If a good driver has money, he does GP2. After that he decides between Formula Renault 3.5 or Auto GP. For me, it is important in this category to race around the world and to keep the costs down. I am sure if Adrian Quaife-Hobbs and the top drivers here arrived in my team [Scuderia Coloni] in GP2, they would be at the top.
Q: Would you like to evolve the philosophy of this car to make it closer to a GP2 Dallara?
EC: We don't need to change the driving character of the car. The technique to go fast in this car is similar to GP2. We know that from [ 2011 GP2 and Auto GP runner-up] Luca Filippi and Romain Grosjean [champion in Auto GP in 2010 and in GP2 last year]. The main aim is to make it look similar to an F1 car and have one or two more events. We are planning this. In May we hope to have a  calendar, but we will listen to the teams' suggestions. We don't want to raise their budgets.
Q: Formula Renault 3.5 has adopted an F1-style Drag Reduction System on its new-for-2012 car. Is that something could incorporate into the new Auto GP machine?
EC: We don't want to have a DRS. We want to be different to World Series by Renault, especially as they have a similar engine. We want to give drivers a similar experience to GP2. I don't want to be negative about World Series by Renault, but it is not a World Series; It is European. At Monza last year they wanted to run with us, and our cars were faster, then they made some modifications. I think they are trying to compete with GP2, but I am not sure if it is the right idea.