The first Auto GP season got to an end just some days ago and while the Series staff is already working at full speed on the 2011 Championship, it's also time to look back to this exciting first year of the Series. After the Monza grand finale, with 17 cars on the grid and Romain Grosjean crowned as the first Auto GP champion, here are Enzo Coloni's thoughts:
So Mr. Coloni, how did the year turn out in your opinion?
"I think it turned out in the best possible way. We knew that we had a very strong technical package and we hoped that teams and drivers would have been positive about our formula, but what we got went beyond our expectations. We launched our Championship in a very difficult moment for the world economy, something that obviously had an influence also on Motorsports, leading various series to a downturn. In this difficult environment, Auto GP had a steady growth, both in numbers and quality. The grid of our last event, in Monza, boasted drivers from F.1, like Grosjean and Pantano, former GP2 and GP2 Asia champions and some of the most interesting young talents in Motorsport. I think that no other championship fielded so much quality and the same goes for the teams: we had three GP2 outfits, the Renault F1 junior team managed by Charouz-Gravity Racing and all the teams' technical staffs were top-notch. There's nothing better to help a driver in delivering all his potential".
What are the reasons for this success?
"I like to think that the drivers that chose our championship managed to understand that we were working to give them a chance of racing at a very high level, without the huge budgets required by other championships. It wasn't easy, we invested a lot into that, and I'm happy that they understood our approach".
Grosjean won the title, but before the Series' last event in Monza the maths were keeping six drivers in contention. What does this mean?
"It means that the Auto GP drivers are racing on absolutely equal opportunities in terms of car performance, and thanks to this a lot of drivers managed to show their talent. Grosjean is among the quickest guys around from quite a long time and thanks to his broad experience he is now also mentally very solid, something that he clearly showed in Auto GP pushing all the time without a single mistake. His presence gave the other drivers the certainty that they were racing against a top-notch benchmark, pushing them to give their best. It's not a case if we had 14 different drivers on podium throughout the year, and I was impressed by a lot of them: Piscopo, Tappy, Charouz, Filippi, Tambay, Onidi, Iaconelli, Leal, Reid, they all had some chances to shine".
Now what's the aim for 2011?
"We must build up on what we achieved this year. We are working on the calendar, planning a minimum of 7 events with two races each, and those could still grow to 8 weekends. We will add some more F1 tracks, and obviously we will still have a big prize money. Regarding the formula there's not a lot to change, but obviously with one year of experience on our back we have identified some minor tweaks. We will explain those when we will introduce our 2011 season, probably at the end of October".
Is there something else you would like to say on 2010 before focusing completely on next year?
"I'd like to underline that I'm very proud of how our Championship managed to find the right placement in the Motorsport world. At the start, being a new Series, there was a normal mix of curiosity and wariness, but the first two races were enough to show everybody how serious we were. We were praised by drivers, foreign ASNs and the major international motoring medias for the good job we did. Today, as we are planning 2011, we are speaking everyday with new teams, circuits and partners that want to step-in. That's the proof that we worked in the right direction. I'm only sorry that the Italian Motorsport Federation didn't notice that: we didn't get any support from them".
All pictures AutoGP.org.