Q & A with de Orleans-Borbon

Q: Neel has just brought home the team's first race win in GP2 - how does it feel?

Q & A with de Orleans-Borbon

Alfonso de Orleans-Borbon: More than anything ecstatic, because Neel has the talent to have won more race - what we just needed was for the team to go through all the points that allowed us to get to where we are. Being a new team in the championship and never having done Formula 3000, learning lots of circuits and having one driver not having driven on most of the circuits - the learning curve was quite steep, but I think we now have what the drivers need to allow them to get the win, although obviously the final step is up to the driver - if he's got the talent he'll get the win, and Neel's got the talent.

Q: It's been pretty clear that Neel has had the talent from day one...

de Orleans-Borbon: Yeah, it was us - it was nothing to do with Neel, and I've got to be totally adamant about that. We're a good team, and we've got very good people in it, but we just needed it all to gel together because there are some people who hadn't been in the team before - in fact most of the people in the team had never been to Hungary, and that says quite a bit. It just needed time - that's all it is, really.

Q: Neel has spent a lot of time saying that when the set up comes he'll get there - he's got the win now, so does that mean you've found the magic set up now?

de Orleans-Borbon: We're not there yet - we've got a good enough car, but both Neel and the engineers feel that there is a possibility, and there is a possibility if you look at the ART cars they are quick, and they're quicker than us, so that means if we can make a car like they've got then we'll have a very good car. It just means that we've still got to work just that little bit harder.

Q: Does the win take a load off your backs? Does it mean that perhaps you'll be able to run at this level from now on without the pressure of getting that first win?

de Orleans-Borbon: Everyone's first win obviously takes something off your back, and we've been working towards that from day one - we've now achieved that, but we're not going to rest on our laurels. We're going to keep on moving forward, because everyone is too - a lot of people think 'oh they've won - they're quick', but you're not going to stop there, because everyone else is now figuring out 'how did they win, let's do it like them.' It's always a catch up game, and before we did a lot of catch up, now I think we're there and it's just a case of working towards future wins.

Q: Looking towards the future there has been some talk of you casting an eye on Formula One - obviously GP2 is a long term project for you, but what are your intentions down the line?

de Orleans-Borbon: Our intentions are to stay in GP2, because it's a championship that I love, and just like Spanish Formula Three I believe in the championship - when I believe in a championship I'll stick with it, and if I don't believe in it I'll leave, as was the case in the World Series. At the moment I believe in the championship, and it has a fantastic future - the level of drivers and teams is absolutely spectacular. In regards to any future plans, definitely there won't be anything before 2008 - we are studying things, we're doing feasibility studies, and it doesn't really mean that we will do something (in Formula One) because, unless all the ducks are nice and lined up, I don't want to jump into a project which will ultimately be a disaster, because being in a disaster is not my idea of going racing. Is there something? We're at the feasibility stage, we're checking things out, calculating costs and stuff like that, and we're not really beyond that so if anyone thinks we are, we're not. But there is a serious intention to move on if our partners and everything else falls into place, but it won't be before 2008.

Q: And your history suggests that you like to move into a new championship in a measured way, build up incrementally, and that suggests that you've still got a way to go even in this series.

de Orleans-Borbon: Well it is our intention - our feasibility study should be finished by the end of the year or the beginning of next year - with that we will sit down with all of the partners, and if it goes ahead it should be running something before 2008 to be properly running in 2008, but as I said we are purely in the exploration stage, and we might turn around tomorrow and say it's not feasible and stop, so please don't read into it more than it is, but there is an intention to maybe do something.

Q: Back to GP2 - with the win taking a load off the team, what are your expectations for the rest of the season?

de Orleans Borbon: More wins, obviously! Like everyone who goes racing, and especially if you are passionate about it like we are in our team, we work towards wins and that's what we want, but actually now that I think about it, obviously wins are nice and everyone dreams about them every single day, our primary objective right now is to have both drivers in the points, and possibly on the podium, at the same time - if we manage to do that then we're on the right track, and that will be our next objective.

Q: Obviously Neel is there, but how close are you to getting Borja to that level?

de Orleans-Borbon: The biggest problem with Borja is that he doesn't know the circuits, although he's learning them. We always say during free practice, instead of setting up his car, Borja is learning the track, and in qualifying he's setting up his car, and in the race he's qualifying, so he's always one step back from everyone else - I guess that's what happens when you come into a championship and you're young and you've raced elsewhere, and I guess a lot of other guys have been through that. Although some of the drivers have had the great chance, even though they were in other championships, to drive a lot of the tracks, but when you're totally new and the only tracks you've done are Barcelona and Magny-Cours then it's going to be a bit of a steep learning curve. He's getting there, but the main thing is we're working towards having both of them in the points as soon as possible, and if we achieve that objective then we're probably going to work towards getting more wins - I think that's the way it should go.

Q: With Borja was it a two year plan with bringing Borja into GP2, as some of the other teams have done with their drivers?

de Orleans-Borbon: Yeah, at the moment we're working close with Spanish Formula Three - the way we're doing it is if someone wins that then they'll be coming into GP2 - not necessarily always, as there might be different situations, but that's what we're working towards. Borja's the first of those drivers, and you've probably seen Javier Villa around here, who is the 17 year old who is leading the championship there quite convincingly, and he is going to be the next one in the programme. If it's two years then yeah, that's what we're working towards, but then again there are so many factors that might not allow something like that to happen. We're here for three years with our partners, and they're there to help young Spanish drivers - that does not mean there won't be any drivers from other countries in the programme, because as you can see Neel is racing with us now, and it doesn't mean there won't be any other foreign drivers, but generally we'll have at least one Spanish driver in the programme. Some of these partners have the intention of having another Spanish driver in Formula One within the next three years - are these the drivers the ones that are going to be there? Maybe - that's what we're working towards, but it doesn't mean they necessarily will be - only time will tell. And GP2 is a tough series, and the proper stepping stone to Formula One - if these drivers can learn all of the tracks and they are good enough to jump into Formula One, then half the work is already done - that's why I think that GP2 is a tremendous tool, even for Formula One teams, for the new talent and saving themselves a lot of hassle.

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Series FIA F2
Author David Cameron
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