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Exclusive interview - Spyker’s Colin Kolles 14 Mar 2007

Dr Colin Kolles (GER) Spyker MF1 Racing Team Principal.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 16, Chinese Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China, 30 September 2006

One of this year’s biggest unknown quantities is Spyker. Despite the fact the F8-VII only began testing in February, the new car clearly has potential - potential the team are confident of capitalising on later in the season. Team principal Colin Kolles discusses the Dutch squad’s progress - and we ask for his latest take on the issue of customer cars.

Q: Colin, the team is facing its third transition year in a row. Not an easy task when you are trying to establish a sound operational basis and are looking for results…
Colin Kolles:
The team has had some upheaval in recent years, first in the change from Jordan to Midland at the end of 2005 and then Midland to Spyker at the end of 2006. These many changes create their own challenges as there is always an installation period where new ideas and philosophies come into play. Spyker, however, views Formula One as a long-term project, so with that commitment comes stability; once you have a solid basis, you can start to build and move forward. This year is all about establishing the groundwork to make progress in the coming seasons.

Q: The signing of chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne looked to be a shrewd move. Obviously he joined the team too late to have an impact on the F8-VII. When do you expect to see his mark at Spyker? Could there be an interim car during this season?
CK:
Mike started in November 2006 when planning and design of the F8-VII was already well underway so his input into this car, which made its debut in February just three months after he joined, has been limited. Mike’s role is to look closely at how we can make the technical team more efficient and maximize performance, so by the mid-season point we should see the benefits. If Mike’s plans go well, we could see a B-spec car in the latter part of the year.

Q: The team’s limited winter test sessions provided some indication that you could be concentrating on a new development…
CK:
The first Ferrari engine was delivered to Silverstone in February 2007, which made it impossible to test the new car before we actually did. There was the option of testing with an interim car, but James Key and Mike Gascoyne took the decision not to follow this route as it is a considerable expense for what could be unrepresentative data. Instead they concentrated on making the F8-VII as reliable as possible, which it has been - we’ve done over 6,000 kilometres without any major problems in pre-season testing.

Q: Giving Adrian Sutil a race seat was a clear vote of confidence for his talents, as there must have been many several other options available that would have brought more cash flow. What potential do you see?
CK:
Adrian is a very good driver and I see enormous potential in him as an all-round talent. He’s quick to learn and is very fast, but he’s also very professional out of the car with his engineers and with the press. As a young driver, I hope we can help him in this early stage of his career and grow with him as he gets more experience.

Q: Spyker has a phalanx of test drivers. Are they part of the mixed approach Michiel Mol indicated concerning the team’s financial basis for 2007? And what were the criteria for their selection?
CK:
Each test driver has different qualities and I think we have a good blend of characters and talents with the four of them. It’s a good opportunity for each of the drivers too; they have the opportunity to drive an F1 car under limited pressure and to use us as a showcase.

Q: Spyker are the team arguably most affected by the question of the legal status of the cars set to be used by Toro Rosso and Super Aguri. What is your take on that now - only days before the first race?
CK:
I have already said everything I wish to say on this matter.