Paolo how would you describe your 2011 season in a few words?
Well some the right words could be dramatic, exciting, and winning…
The season started off so badly with Davide Rigon getting injured in Istanbul. How did your team rebound from that?
Davide’s injury was one of the worst moments of my career as a Team Principal. We all know that motorsport is dangerous, but when it happens to one of your guys, the feeling is a very hard one to cope with. Anyway our logo is a wolf, and that comes from a very long team history: we’re used to fight, and that’s what we did. Such a difficult situation was a boost for the team to give their best, and you’ve seen the outcome.
You gave his chance to young Kevin Ceccon. What did you expect from him?
I expected him not to be afraid of doing such a leap, and I was very happy that he wasn’t. If your aim is to drive in F1 you can’t turn down the chance to drive in a Grand Prix if it comes, and it’s the same with GP2: debuting in Barcelona and Monaco wasn’t an easy task, but Kevin didn’t think about it twice and took the chance, driving two flawless weekends. It was a huge undertaking for such a young guy.
And then came Luca Filippi... Were you expecting him to eventually fight for the crown?
We were coming from a very good pre-season testing program, with P1 and P6 in the Barcelona collective testing, and then Rigon’s accident in Istanbul changed everything. We wanted Luca in the car to understand where we were past half season, to see if that huge potential we had seen before the start of 2011 was still there. We immediately realized that it was, and then the relationship and collaboration between our engineers and Luca were so great that they manage to make the most of that potential very quickly.
What was the highlight of your season?
Well, the win in Nurburgring surely was one. Being so competitive as soon as Luca jumped in the car and winning with such a margin was an amazing feeling. But Monza was a bit more special maybe: winning the Feature Race at home gave us goosebumps, and then in Race 2 we boasted a flawless strategy, clinching the extra point we needed to secure Filippi’s second place in the standings by posting the fastest time on the penultimate lap. It was a perfect weekend.
What would be your ideal line-up for the upcoming GP2 season?
Frankly I was very pleased by the performances of both our drivers in Abu Dhabi. Coletti and Ceccon got along well and did a very good job with the team, so going ahead with them would be the ideal choice for me, also to give a continuity to the technical development job that we are doing with a young and talented duo.
Since Luca stepped in your car, its proven to be quick and reliable. What will it take next season to be champions?
2012 will see some changes in the regulations, such as the aero configuration and the double tyre compound: this will mean that the teams will have to deliver a top-notch technical job, both on track and at home with the simulation tools. At the same time, the drivers will need to be in their best shape, also from a physical point of view. Then, the atmosphere in the team will make the difference: when everybody works in the same direction there’s no limit to what you can achieve.