President and Team Principal of Racing Engineering Alfonso de Orléans-Borbón is a true racer and racing fan having previously competed at the 24 Hours of Le Mans before setting up the team we know today back in 1999. The Spaniard, known also to have royal blood, took time out of his schedule to talk to Callum Rowe’s GP2 Blog.
Q. Nine events into the 2014 season, two remaining. How do you evaluate Racing Engineering’s season to date?
Alfonso de Orléans-Borbón: From a technical point of view, close to perfect. Reliable cars, fast and with changes in the right direction when needed. Good strategy during the races. Sadly the drivers have had pretty bad luck. Usually colliding with other drivers or being blocked on their fast laps in qualifying. So then the weekends have been an uphill battle to get points. But when those factors did not play into the weekend, we usually had fantastic results. Let’s just work on the luck a bit more.
Q. Raffaele Marciello was hotly tipped to be a title contender this season but only lies tenth in the standings (reliability issues hampered him). Did you expect him to struggle?
AdOB: A bit a the beginning, like all rookies, but he has shaped up nicely and this will get some good results at the end of the season, just like he did from Austria on, when not hampered by other drivers.
Q. Stefano Coletti on the other hand looks to have really clicked with the team this season. Is he a driver you enjoy having on board with Racing Engineering?
AdOB: Absolutely, he is a total team player. Never gives up. He needs to clean up his qualifying a bit, but for the rest, everything is absolutely positive. A real fighter. A sight to see on track during a race, on the limit, clean and has more balls than anyone in the field.
Q. You have said in the past that Justin Wilson and Sebastian Vettel are the most talented drivers you’ve had the chance to work with. Do Lello and Stefano come close to the standard of Wilson and Vettel?
AdOB: They are different, Stefano is pure talent when fighting on the track, same with Lello, but they are not as evolved technically as Justin or Seb, probably because back then computers were not as big a part in setting up a car as these days, so we mostly relied on what the drivers told us. So we have two different schools of thought in regards to setting up the car, but eventually, the results are what count and I think all four drivers are very talented.
Q. Last year’s GP2 Champion Fabio Leimer unfortunately failed to secure an F1 seat this year. Were you sad to see him miss out?
AdOB: Absolutely, more than you think. I honestly thought with his talent and backing, he would be in F1 this year, but as we all know, sometimes things do not turn out like you want them to. He is still working on it and let hope next year will be his year.
Q. Going back to the events this year. Four races remain, two in Sochi and a further two more in Abu Dhabi. Will we be seeing you with anymore celebratory cigars after wins?
AdOB: Well Sochi is a bit of a mystery, so no idea how that will go. Will let you know after the weekend. As for Abu Dhabi, we tend do quite well there, so let’s hope we manage to do well again. Sadly both our drivers cannot win the championship anymore, but we will try to get into the top three of both the drivers and team championships. That is our objective now.
Q. Racing Engineering currently lies fourth in the Teams’ Championship. What are your hopes for the team before the end of the season?
AdOB: Top three is our only objective. Working flat out to try to achieve this.