Q&A with Spykers Colin Kolles 18 May 2007
Neither Spyker driver has scored a point in 2007, but the Dutch-owned squad are showing definite signs of improvement. Next weekends Monaco Grand Prix is an event renowned for its unpredictability and team principal Colin Kolles is not ruling out a potential top-ten finish
Q: Has the team's progress this season met with your expectations?
Colin Kolles: We always knew this season was going to be tough, with new management, new drivers and a new engine, so the most we could hope for in the first races was good reliability and solid finishes. I wouldn't be honest if I said I was happy with the first two events. Malaysia was a particular low-point; having two cars out before lap 10 is just not acceptable. It's far better however that we make these mistakes early on while we are still developing as a team rather than later in the season when there's much more at stake. I was much more satisfied in Bahrain - Adrian (Sutil) had a solid race despite having initial problems and Christijan (Albers) was consistent and reliable and we got two cars to the end. We carried on the momentum in Spain with another double finish and now we've got to build on this going into Monaco and beyond.
Q: Do you think there is a positive atmosphere in the team?
CK: Yes, with the 13th and 14th positions in Spain we moved from 11th to 10th in the constructors' championship, which showed we were making progress. Until Spain we were behind Toro Rosso as they had a better finishing record than us, but the double finish moved us back ahead. It might not seem a lot, but it's very important for us to be in the top 10. We cannot be happy with this in the long term, but we have to make the most of what we can achieve at present. The atmosphere is good as we can see we are moving forward.
Q: The F8-VII cars are now showing good reliability and with Monaco known as a car-breaker there might be a chance for the team to really be up there with the group in front.
CK: Monaco is known as a hard race and you can never predict what will happen. You could start on pole and then be knocked out at the first corner, or start at the back, it rains, you get the strategy right and suddenly you're in the top eight. If we keep out of trouble and are reliable, we could be in the top 10.
Q: Your drivers are pushing each other hard this year. Is this what you hoped for when you signed Adrian Sutil?
CK: I have known Adrian for a long time and knew what he was capable of. I knew he would push Christijan hard, but this is what we need as Christijan has to be on top form to do well. Christijan himself will say that it's good for him - if you look at the times in Spain there was nothing in it at all - just one or two tenths in every session. Now Christijan knows what's expected, it can only be good for the team as we get the most out of each driver.
Q: Do you have plans to run Friday drivers in any Grands Prix this year?
CK: We are taking this decision on a race by race basis. As Monaco is a very difficult circuit, we want our race drivers to have the maximum amount of track time possible to be ready for qualifying. Our test drivers continue to run in the car to build up their experience and I hope that each will have an opportunity to run on a Friday at some point over the course of the year, should circumstances allow.
Q: There has been a change in the management of Spyker cars recently, with Victor Muller moving over to be responsible for design and brand management and Michiel Mol becoming acting CEO. Do you think this change will affect the Spyker Formula One team?
CK: Effectively the move won't affect the day to day running of the team at all, the F1 team is very separate to the road car division. On a management level though it will only strengthen the link between Spyker Cars and the Formula One team.