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Exclusive - MF1 team boss Colin Kolles on 2006 and the new M16... 03 Feb 2006

Colin Kolles (GER) MF1 Racing Managing Director. Midland MF1 Racing Launch, Silverstone, England, 3 February 2006. World ©  Hartley/Sutton

His hard-headed approach earned Midland team boss Colin Kolles his fair share of criticism last year. However, positive developments at MF1 Racing, culminating with Friday’s launch of their new M16 car, appear to have justified that approach - in theory at least. Of course, the real test will come in Bahrain, when every team will discover just how well they did their winter homework.

Q: Colin, let’s begin with the new Midland identity: a new logo, new colour scheme, new livery… what does it all represent?
Colin Kolles:
“For us, this symbolises a brand-new approach, both on and off the track. When we took over Jordan, we inherited the team’s infrastructure and dedicated young workforce but we also had to correct some major problems that had resulted mainly from a lack of investment. In spite of the criticism we faced last season, we focused on learning as much as possible while restructuring the team and building a solid foundation for the future. We are still working hard to improve and now, step by step, we are ready to move forward with the next stage of our plan.”

Q: There has been much speculation over your 2006 driver line up: Christijan Albers was confirmed last year but there was never any formal announcement from the team regarding Tiago Monteiro, even though his name appears on the FIA entry list. Can you comment on his status with Midland?
CK:
“Obviously, we rate Tiago highly and are very happy to have him race for us. He did a great job for us last season, which is why we decided to exercise our option on his contract for 2006. For the team and for Tiago, the important thing was not to make public announcements; the important thing was to continue making progress with productive winter testing. This is exactly what we have done, and we are confident that Tiago and Christijan will form a strong tandem capable of squeezing maximum performance out of the new package.”

Q: Speaking of the new car, what can you tell us about the M16?
CK:
“The M16 is an all-new chassis, right down to the smallest component. The design team has taken a ‘clean sheet’ approach that has benefited from our technical partnership with Dallara in Italy, but the cars are assembled entirely at our Silverstone headquarters. The aerodynamic package has undergone thorough evaluation in the wind tunnel and now we are looking forward to testing it on the track, so that we can begin developing it under racing conditions. It’s still too early to say how much of an improvement it will be relative to our competition, but we are optimistic that it will be a significant leap forward.”

Q: Bridgestone looks to rebound this season after having an ‘off’ year in 2005. What are your expectations for their performance, given the addition of Williams and Toyota to the data-sharing collaboration?
CK:
“One of the things that make Bridgestone such an excellent partner is their commitment to continually improving their tyres. Now, with the return of tyre changes during races and data sharing among the (Bridgestone) teams, I hope that we can all regain a crucial advantage.”