Colin Kolles, Team Principal of HRT Formula One Team, gives his view on the team’s performance during the first half of the season. The team continues to consolidate itself and is improving in its second year in the Championship. The Team Principal talks about what the drivers can add, the evolution of the car and the team’s targets from now until the end of the season.
22-year-old Australian Daniel Ricciardo joined the team at the British Grand Prix in Silverstone. What are the key qualities of your rookie driver?
It’s always difficult to fully evaluate a newcomer. Daniel arrives with a strong background of 55 podiums in his short career which is very promising. Daniel received an unusual and nice birthday gift on July 1st 2011 and was able to make it to his first F1 Grand Prix drive. Three races later, Daniel will start his fourth Grand Prix in Spa and is gaining very valuable knowledge and experience with every lap he completes behind the wheel. Sometimes young drivers don’t know what to expect, and we are working closely with him to build his experience and confidence in the car.
What are your current drivers’ qualities?
Narain Karthikeyan has the widest experience of different categories which is very useful. Vitantonio Liuzzi is our experienced driver who will complete his 74th F1 Grand Prix at Spa. He is a really good fighter behind the wheel with a passionate temperament. Daniel Ricciardo is the youngest and a very talented rookie who shows that he is a fast learner. He needs to develop and is on the right trajectory in that regard.
What has been the best race of the season so far?
Canada was our best race so far where we scored the best result in our team’s history. It was a great race with a positive ending. We made a step forward in terms of performance and in the championship position. The whole team has been working very hard and it is a deserved result. The drivers did a very good job driving more aggressively than ever in very difficult conditions.
What are the strengths of HRT Formula One and what are your next targets?
We will have to improve further and target 10th position in the championship. I am very thankful and happy for all the team members who are working very hard to move the team forward. I want to also thank our partners and suppliers for all their support.
What is the most difficult challenge for a team?
In terms of racing, to have the right set up, accurately predicting the effect of tyre degradation and, in mixed conditions, to make the right calls at the right time. Apart from the race there are many challenges every day.
Will the team bring any updates to the car after the summer break?
We have been working on updates for the upcoming Grands Prix of Spa and Monza which require different aerodynamic configurations from the previous ones. The car’s set-up must reflect the need to perform with complete stability in the very fast and medium-speed corners, while also having the mechanical traction to deal with the slower corners.
We have seen the weather impact several races this year how much can that alter and challenge a team’s efforts during a race?
The weather is often hard to predict. But we should be well prepared for strong performances. Some tracks like Hungary are notoriously more difficult given the conditions, which tend to be windy, and the fact that it is a track on which overtaking is a problem. But tyre management is always a key factor as well as timing your pit stops and tyre decisions perfectly.
What is your objective for the remainder of the season?
Our team has made improvements during the course of this season and we want to continue to fight hard to reduce the gap to the midfield.
What has changed with the teams new owners?
HRT F1 has new owners which have given us increased confidence in our F1 programme.
Liuzzi is to race a Ford Falcon at the Gold Coast 600 V8 Supercar event in October 2011, do you have any hesitation having one of your drivers compete in another series?
Well, to start with, we will all be in the Asian time zone and it is best to adapt fully to the time zone for the five out of the six last Grands Prix, starting with Singapore on 25-09, then Japan, Korea and India and on 13/11 the penultimate Abu Dhabi leg before the grand finale in Brazil. All professional races are a good challenge for well-trained drivers. In the end, mentally speaking for a driver, a race remains a race and it requires a very sharp focus exercise. Racing and getting kilometres under your belt are always a benefit.