Q & A with Paolo Coloni

Q. Coloni started the season very strongly, with a win and a number of other good performances, but the results seem to have dropped off a little lately. Why is that?

Q & A with Paolo Coloni

Paolo Coloni: We started with a really strong investment, on the development of the car, on the team, on everything, and we won in round two and then almost won in round three. In Monaco we were leading the race for three quarters of the race, and in Germany we were just three points off the leader [of the championship] but unfortunately we suffered a puncture in race one while we were leading, and we lost race two with just five laps to go after leading all of the race.

Of course, we need to have everybody working at one hundred percent and to be motivated to succeed in such a strong championship - that's just what GP2 is like. Unfortunately we also lost some very important points, like in Magny Cours where we had a problem at the start and in Silverstone, where we could have fought for the win but we penalised. I think basically we are there - in Magny Cours, where we were fastest, and everywhere else we are on the pace - but you also need to have everything running perfectly all through the weekend, otherwise it is very easy to compromise both races.

Q. What are you doing improve the pace in the car? I know, for example, that you have a new race engineer in the team.

Coloni: Of course we didn't have much time to test, so we spend a lot of time on simulation programmes, and we have a contract for the development of the car. We also have access to the very good wind tunnel data from Dallara, and of course we've been on the seven post rig. We really have done a lot of work, and I don't think that today there is any team that can physically do more than we are doing.

We had the opportunity to use the services of [race engineer] Gary Davis, who I rate very highly as an engineer, and we took Gary and now he is the head race engineer and has a contract with us for the next three years. And of course the technical director is still my father [Enzo Coloni], and we still have the ongoing consultancy contract with Sergio Rinland, so I think now is the time to have some luck!

Definitely I think we still have the potential to be in the top three [in the championship] - of course it is very important to have everything working, and it's no good to be fast at one track and not fast at another track. What we are looking for at the end of this season is to know exactly why we are fast at any track - we've been fast so far at slow tracks, fast tracks and medium tracks, so for us it is very important to arrive at the end of the year and be able to know exactly how to be on the top at any track for next season. It will be a lot of work for everybody, but it obviously the way to go.

Q. It sounds as though you are happy with the performance of the team, which obviously means we need to look at the drivers. Are you happy with their performances this year?

Coloni: I think that Mathias has grown up a lot over this season, especially if you think that he has only had one year's experience in Formula 3000 - this car is seven seconds faster than that. So he hasn't really had time to develop himself, especially in testing, so we have had to go race by race. But I am extremely happy with him, and I would be happy to see Gimmi winning another race, because I think he is a talented driver, and of course he knows he can do it. Of course, to work under this sort of pressure is not easy, and I hope that we will have a little bit of luck and can get everything working perfectly, and finally to get some enjoyment from what we do, because we work really, really hard.

Q. I know you are very ambitious for the team, and have a lot of plans to push forward in the future. You're committed to GP2, but I believe you are looking at also running in some other series, in particular DTM.

Coloni: I have to say that Coloni Motorsport has always tried to make programmes which are an open way to Formula One - I think that, in the history of motorsport, we are the team which has put the most drivers into Formula One, with [Enrico] Toccacelo, who is arriving tomorrow, being driver number 21. But I think we also have to look at what happens to the other drivers, the Formula One drivers, after they quit.

Of course there is GP2, and that has shown that you can have a second chance to re-launch your career by coming one step back and then later going properly into Formula One, so the next thing is to look at what happens when I driver goes out of Formula One but don't really want to go to the United States. So basically you can find a very nice place with DTM, which I rate very highly, and it can be something that is very interesting for Coloni, to continue working with a driver that you have already been working with. Of course, we also would like to return to Formula One as well, but that is a completely separate issue!

Q. For a team like Coloni, which has always been interested in promoting their drivers, it is another direction that you can take with them?

Coloni: I have personally been racing with [Giancarlo] Fisichella, with [Jacques] Villeneuve, with all the top Formula One drivers, and for myself the ambition is to improve and increase the quality of the driver - I'm not driving myself anymore, but when I work with the team I think I have a lot to give to the drivers, to help the drivers to perform at one hundred percent.

Some people like to do this, some people don't, but I think you never stop learning in this job, and I think it is nicer to help them to reach the top, and to do this you have to work closely with the drivers. I think that normally you should enjoy this job, and to reach the top you should have nothing else but driving in your head, but sometimes I think the real problem to be one hundred percent for the drivers today is the pressure of the job - sometimes you need to just go out and enjoy it.

Q. Talking about drivers, you are obviously starting to get ready for next year in GP2 - are you looking at anyone in particular on the driving side?

Coloni: We do have several drivers who have shown they can be extremely competitive in our championship, Formula 3000 Italia, and I do think this formula is perfect as a stepping stone. I do hope that we will have the possibility to launch the winner of our series into GP2 next season, and that's why we are working really hard this year. We have been investing a lot of money to be the strongest team next year in GP2, and this has to start the day after the last race this season. Of course there are a few talents that I am looking at with interest, and it would be great to be able to always increase the level of the drivers that we are working with, because that is something that gives me a lot of satisfaction.

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