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APRIL 30, 2010

Colin Kolles: "We want to be the best new team!"

The newly-renamed HRT Formula One Team may have yet to threaten the establishment, but the simple fact Colin Kolles got his team to Bahrain and both cars out for qualifying showed there's enough grit in the Spanish outfit to earn a place in Formula One as a permanent fixture.

Even more impressive has been the fact that both Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok tend to finish most of the races, albeit off the pace, when Timo Glock, for one, is yet to see a chequered flag this year and his team mate at Virgin Racing, Lucas di Grassi, only completed the Malaysian Grand Prix by slowing down dramatically over the last eight laps to avoid running out of fuel.

But Colin Kolles is not thinking of just surviving around and in this exclusive interview tells us about his plans to move HRT closer to the midfield as soon as possible.

Q: How do you rate the job done by your team over these first four races of the season?

A: I think we did the best job we could, but now we are ready to tackle more than just coming to the races and trying to finish them. No one can imagine what I found when I took over the team - it was utter chaos and people in the team didn't seem to believe we would be able to get things running for Bahrain. So the first priority was to get the right people to do the job we needed and then complete the cars in time to race in Bahrain.

Obviously with the entire race team staying away for the first four races it was not possible to do much about improving the car, but we did quite a lot of work on the circuits, we fixed most of the car's problems and I'm happy with the way everyone work. So now we can move to the next goal.

Q: Most people in the paddock have been impressed with the reliability of your cars and praised the fact most times you get them both to the end of the race. Is that particularly satisfying for you?

A: No, because I'm not here to finish races in last place - I'm here to make this team the best of the new teams in 2010 and then move on to bigger and more ambitious goals. Maybe for people that have been in Formula One for 20 years or more just finishing the races is a great success for a new team, but in these days everyone finishes the races - that's the norm in Formula One. What I want is to finish them ahead of my competition!

Q: You're also the only team with two rookies. How do you rate Senna and Chandhok's job so far?

A: I'm happy with what they're doing, but it's clear we are at a disadvantage because we have two rookies. We could not afford to hire a Trulli or a Kovalainen, like Lotus, so we had to go with drivers that gave us guarantees but also helped with the budget of the team. The arrival of Sakon Yamamoto will help us move forward, as he has more experience than Bruno or Karun, but our race drivers are progressing well, they've shown their speed and they're getting better every time they drive the car.

Q: How do you plan to move HRT forward this year?

A: It's quite clear there's a lot of work to do in order to improve this car. I'm not going to speak about the work done by Dallara, but we're no longer cooperating with them. They've supplied what we had in Bahrain and from then on we've been developing the car by ourselves. We're currently hiring designers and aerodynamicists to start working on new parts for the car and very soon we'll announce a deal with a top-notch wind tunnel facility, where we'll start testing new parts for the F110.

Of course nothing like this can be done in a day, so we'll need to keep going until the middle of the season, building up the team, giving experience to our drivers and testing things in the wind tunnel and then we'll go for performance in the second half of the season.

We're giving a head start to our rivals, but I still believe we'll be able to finish the season as the best of the new teams.

Q: Finally, can you clarify what Geoff Willis meant when he sad he didn't want to stay in a team racing at the back of the grid for long?

A: I don't want to stay in a team that is racing at the back either - no one wants! What Geoff meant and others too is that we need to find a way out of this situation as soon as possible, as none of us is here just to say to our friends we're in Formula One. We've got a plan already, we're working on it and this team will move forward quite quickly.