We sat down with PREMA Racing’s Team Principal René Rosin to discuss a stellar first season in GP2 Series for the Italian squad.
GP2 Series: PREMA Racing have become GP2 Series team champions on their first season. Did you expect this?
René Rosin: We were expecting to be competitive because last year during the post season tests at Yas Marina, we were immediately at the top. But then, day by day, month after month, this became more realistic. This title became our target and it was also made possible thanks to the drivers we had. Still, it’s not been easy: we made some mistakes; our drivers made some mistakes as well. But in the end, everything went pretty well… We’ve even had a great battle inside our team with Pierre and Giovinazzi fighting for the title.
GP2 Series: Speaking about your line-up, you chose one driver with a little over one season experience, and a rookie. What was the reason behind this choice?
René: First of all, we decided to sign Pierre just after the post-season tests last year. He was highly motivated and fully focused to try and achieve the best result possible with us. He worked really hard. As for Antonio, it was more of a last minute deal: our target was to finalise our line up by the first week of January. While we were talking with other drivers, Antonio came to us and as soon as I saw his name, I knew we had to take him on board. I’ve known him since Formula 3. I always knew that he was extremely talented. Between him and Pierre, I knew we had almost the perfect mix between experience and a rookie. They started to work really hard together. Obviously, they are not friends on the track, but one hour after a session or a race, they sit down and work together. For sure, this is also part of our success.
GP2 Series: How do you manage having an intra-team battle for the title?
René: Of course, it means a bit more pressure for us, but in the end, there is no team order. They both know that they need to be fair to each other on track. As I said, they worked really hard together and it’s truly a big advantage we had compared to some other teams maybe. Obviously, in the last round, with such a small gap in the standings between the two of them, it was more a matter of making sure they kept calm…
GP2 Series: What’s been the highest point of the season for PREMA?
René: I would say the pole position in Barcelona. To achieve this on the first race weekend was something incredible. I would also say when we did 1-2 in Baku. That was extraordinary. On the first lap of the sprint race, we were at the back of the field. Then, let’s be honest, we were lucky… I would then add Silverstone Feature Race: it was the first win for Pierre after a long time. And it was also another 1-2 for the team…
GP2 Series: Any low points?
René: Obviously, Monaco was very disappointing. We had high expectations before getting there. But the drivers made some mistakes, and the team as well. It compromised the overall result. If I had to name another low point, I would say Spielberg: we were 1 and 2 in the Feature Race, but then Pierre span when it started to rain, and then Antonio got a technical issue…
GP2 Series: Will you carry over any lesson from this season to the next?
René: The most important lesson is the team work. You can have the best engineers and the best drivers, the best mechanics for the pit stops, if the team doesn’t work properly together, you will not achieve anything. So, the most important thing is that since Monday after the final round of the 2016 season, we have been working again from zero for 2017. We have no expectation except for our team to work hard together and build everything up for next season. It will be difficult. The competition will be tough, but that’s the way it is. GP2 is the strongest category after Formula One so it’s never easy. Everyone is continuously pushing to get even better. We cannot stop.
GP2 Series: You have already announced your 2017 line up which will be made of two rookies: 2016 GP3 Series Champion Charles Leclerc and GP3 race winner Antonio Fuoco. As reigning champions, you will be the team to beat. Is that extra pressure?
René: Basically, PREMA has always worked with young drivers or drivers with not much experience. In 2016, we had Pierre, but he was also a driver with only one year experience in GP2. I don’t feel that we will have extra pressure except maybe because we will be in red with two drivers from the Ferrari Drivers Academy. That means that everybody will look at us even more closely. But as I said to the drivers during our first meeting: the most important thing will be to be working. We need to do what we have to do. If we want to win, we need to bottle the pressure. If we want to be the best, we need to be able to fight against the others. That’s the only thing to do.