Q & A with Colin Kolles

When Colin Kolles was drafted in to get the struggling Campos Grand Prix outfit onto the grid in 2010 as the renamed HRT outfit, those who had encountered him from his previous spell with Midland/Spyker/Force India knew he was a man who does not understand the word 'fail.'

Q & A with Colin Kolles

Against the odds, Kolles not only managed to get HRT to Bahrain, but has since managed - despite the numerous challenges the outfit has faced - to get race finishes and start making some progress at the outfit. The team may still not be anywhere near as competitive, or financially flush, as Kolles would like - but that has just made him even more determined to push things onwards.

And, as AUTOSPORT discovered, Kolles still reckons HRT has the potential to end the year as the best of the new teams.

Q. The season is now well underway. What state is the team in? Are you happy you are here, or frustrated with performance?

Colin Kolles: I am not frustrated. We have to work hard and to improve. That is all.

Q. Have you achieved what you thought was realistically possible considering the short timeframe you had to get the team going?

CK: Maybe we achieved more than we expected. Unfortunately we have to work on the car. We have to work a lot on the car, but that is always the process.

Q. Has that been the biggest frustration since you came on board - that the one thing that should have been in shape and good actually has become the biggest headache?

CK: You know, I am going to answer this question in a different way. There are simple facts, and facts will always come out into the light.

Q. There have been various reports over recent weeks that your contract with Dallara has been terminated. Is that the case?

CK: That was the first thing I did.

Q. So you now have a car for this season and it is up to you to develop it?

CK: Yes, this is definitely my view.

Q. And do you have the capability to improve it?

CK: I think we have the expertise. Certain things have been put in place, and of course additional things will be put in place. And we will see.

Q. And for next season, do you design your own car from scratch?

CK: Yes.

Q. And is Geoff Willis in charge of that?

CK: This is the plan.

Q. And has he signed up full-time or does he remain on a rolling contract?

CK: We have a very good relationship to Geoff. I think that me personally, I have a good relationship, and we are very clear about what we want to achieve. So between us, I think there is a very clear understanding.

Q. How is the financial situation at the team, is it improving?

CK: Obviously we are a small team and we have to work hard to get every day money in. There is nothing to hide about this - but this is actually the same for everybody. Maybe some other people are acting and they should be nominated for the Oscar's...

Q. What is a realistic target and ambition to achieve this season with what you have got?

CK: Maybe to be the best new team.

Q. You still think that is possible?

CK: I know that we have a strong team. This is what I know. But there is a lot of work to be done.

Q. Which involves getting money in as well...

CK: Money, of course, but time is the biggest issue.

Q. Bruno Senna has talked about updates coming, but perhaps not for a while?

CK: We are planning to have two updates on the car, but I cannot say now when they are. Maybe we will have one in a month, if we find something small, but the plan is to have two updates. We are concentrating on certain areas, like the front wing and the diffuser, because we cannot concentrate on the whole car. And we will see.

Q. You signed Christian Klien shortly before the Spanish Grand Prix as your test and reserve driver. What was the thinking behind that?

CK: The thinking was very logical. If you remember at Force India, we did a kind of shoot-out where we had a few drivers in the car. This was actually just called a 'shoot-out' by the press, whereas from our side it was to get information from different drivers to improve the car. Only by doing this, we improved the car a lot without spending money. Before that, we had Adrian Sutil who had never driven a different F1 car and we had Sakon [Yamamoto] who was also not so experienced.

So the reason why we do this, is because we have rookie drivers who are very talented and have done a very good job, but they have not driven a comparable car. This is where we have to know, and we need feedback of where are the most crucial points to focus on.

Q. How is the challenge of running HRT for you personally, compared to when you were involved with Midland/Spyker/Force India?

CK: The biggest challenge was to get the team to Bahrain. This was, for me, something I wanted to achieve. I think we have made steps since then. Obviously we have a problem with the car, but we do what we can do to look professional and do a professional job.

Q. Is it fun or just a big headache?

CK: For me, obviously I enjoy what I am doing. The harder it gets the more I enjoy it - and it is just working. I just want to see progress. Every day I want progress, and if you look at the paddock it doesn't look like we were a team that on February 10 did not exist. Look at the garage and everything. It looks that there is a structure in place, everything is there, and you have to know the short time frame. I have the people I can rely on, the good people, and I am proud of this to be honest with you.

Of course we are not competitive, but that was not under my control. And obviously this is something that makes me unhappy. Therefore we have to push, and push hard - and I don't care how. That means pushing to get more money, pushing to get more development and pushing to move it forward.

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