Tag: Interview

„Next step: Formula 2“

After four class wins in a row, SUPER LIGHTS rookie Alexander Geier (16, from Salzburg) tells us in an interview about his career and his goals in motorsport.

ALEXANDER GEIER: “I started with a Formula König when I was eleven, we drove a lot with it. Then came a Formula Renault 2.0 built in 2002, with a sequential gearbox. Then, at 13, we bought a new Formula Renault, already with pedalshift. I raced it in the Histo Cup Austria until last year. Then Ingo Gerstl (Team Top Speed) gave me the chance to race in the BOSS GP Racing Series. For the next step, we bought the Tatuus World Series by Renault 3.5, which we now race in.”

What skills does a driver need to be able to drive such a bolide?

GEIER: “Basically, anyone can drive it. The brakes are only applied on the left, which is difficult for many people. Also, the clutch is on the steering wheel, driving away is difficult, but steering the car itself is doable with a bit of practice.”

What makes the BOSS GP Racing Series special for you?

GEIER: “Fast cars, the races – just everything. It’s quite different from anything I’ve driven before. Definitely more professional! The driving level of the series is also much higher than is often assumed. Of course, in some duels you do have to hold back because the cars are a bit older and there are often few spare parts. But that’s all too understandable because of the costs.”

Most recently in Brno, Geier won both races in the SUPER LIGHTS class and even chased the FORMULA drivers in front of him

You are on the events with your own team. How is that made up?

GEIER: “In the past it was just my dad and me, we also do our own wrenching at home in the garage. Now there are always three of us on the road. Willi is a good friend of my father and now part of our team, he likes racing too.”

What are your big goals for the future?

GEIER: “The next step should come in 2023. We want to start with a Formula 2. We are training for that now and looking for sponsors. It’s almost impossible to pay for that ourselves, so we’re dependent on help here.”

Photos: Angelo Poletto/BOSS GP

Self-made man

From race kart to Formula 2: Simone Colombo (35, from near Milan) shows how it’s done. In our interview, the MM International driver explains why the BOSS GP Racing Series has captivated him.

You come from professional karting and switched to a Formula 2 car last year. How did that come about?

SIMONE COLOMBO: “I started karting and then stopped when I got my job. I didn’t race for seven years and I felt I was missing something. But during my job I couldn’t do both, so I couldn’t continue karting. So I tried to start motor racing and that’s why I’m here. In 2021, I drove my first race ever. I just started racing formula cars and I don’t know much about it. But this year I tested before the first race a lot.”

But it looks very skillful, you don’t make many mistakes. Were GT cars actually not an option for you?

COLOMBO: “No! Only single seaters, that’s the maximum.”

Why do you race in the BOSS GP Racing Series?

COLOMBO: “To have fun! I enjoy the experience, the tracks, the car. There are not so many opportunities to drive this kind of cars.”

Promising start: In Simone’s debut season in 2021 he immediately became runner-up in the FORMULA class

What does your company Mondokart do?

COLOMBO: “We sell kart parts and karts. We work hard to be very good and fast in shipping. We are sort of the ‘Amazon of karting’. Karting is very big in Italy because most karts are produced in Italy and all the main manufacturers are in Italy.”

What kart chassis do you sell?

COLOMBO: “We sell CRG, Tonykart, but we also have many other brands. We work with all the companies in the sector. In addition, we are also manufacturers of karts ourselves, but that is not the biggest part of the business.”

What is your goal for this racing season, what do you expect?

COLOMBO: “I want to do better than last year. Maybe I can get first place in the championship, but I don’t know if I will be able to do that. There are also some new riders this year … I will just take it step by step.”

Pictures: Angelo Poletto/BOSS GP, Robert Lösch

„Single Seaters are my world“

We spoke to Austrian Michael Aberer (50) ahead of his home race at the Red Bull Ring (June 3–5, 2022) and learned why he admires Niki Lauda, but his GP2 Dallara will be on the grid in a retro livery of Jochen Rindt.

What motivates you to drive a GP2 car?

MICHAEL ABERER: “In terms of dimensions, the car suits me. I’m 90 kilos, in Formula 3 you need 70, 75 kilos – it’s simply a smaller car. So the GP2 is a better match for me from a purely physical point of view. And single seaters are my world anyway!”

Do you have a particular hero?

ABERER: “Niki Lauda, I’ve had him on my wall as a poster since I was a child. But also Gerhard Berger, I’m probably closest to him in human terms. Like him, I took care of everything: racing car, business … disco and, of course, girls (laughs).”

But your car is painted like Jochen Rindt’s world champion Lotus, why is that?

ABERER: “I came up with that together with Ingo Gerstl. He thought it was a bit of history and showed me pictures of memorable motorsport designs. Red-white-red are again my colors – so I thought, ‘okay, it will be Jochen Rindt’. Then there was also the 50th anniversary of his death (2020, note) and that’s how it all fell into place. Even though Jochen Rindt raced before my time, as an Austrian his story of course interests me.”

Most recently in Hockenheim, Michael Aberer belonged to the top group of the FORMULA class

What is your motorsport history so far?

ABERER: “In the classic way, karting and car slalom. I was very successful in car slalom, 30 years ago with a Golf GTi in Vorarlberg. Now it’s different, but in the past these were real racing cars, with a cage inside and the car slalom community was also big. In between I took a little break. Then I started karting again as a hobby and then switched to Formula 3. In 2006, I became champion of the so-called B series.”

Then you took another break …

ABERER: “Yes, in 2012 I stopped completely and let my son Lukas drive. Two years ago, however, I started again. Now I’d like to drive the car a bit more and then I’ll let Lukas go first.”

Aberer in his 2020 BOSS GP debut season with a World Series by Renault (seen here at Spa)

Two years ago, you raced in the BOSS GP Racing Series for the first time. How is your team made up today?

ABERER: “Currently I have hired the Asche Racing Team with Flo Leitinger as chief mechanic. They are good and for me it makes sense above all that they take care of the car, then I am much freer. They screw and I drive, like a Formula 1 driver (laughs).”

What do you like most about the BOSS GP?

ABERER: “I like the community. Here, many drivers from different nations come together, all around the same age. On the tracks we have our fun, in the evening we sit together at the barbecue. High performance, but also comfortable. We’re not going to be Formula 1 world champions anymore, so we have other ambitions. From a sporting point of view, my goal this year is to make it onto the podium and then we’ll see.”

Pictures: Angelo Poletto & Michael Kavena/BOSS GP

Formula 1 ”just for fun”

Ulf Ehninger from Tübingen in Germany surprisingly won the BOSS GP OPEN class title in 2021. We spoke to the defending champion ahead of the season opener in Hockenheim (6-8 May 2022) to discuss the speciality of running a classic Formula 1 car.

Let’s look back to 2021: What are the strongest memories of your masterpiece?

ULF EHNINGER: “Probably that we made it at all! We didn’t even realise it until Monza. It was only when Thomas Hummer from Pirelli told me at the podium ceremony that we had a chance that we started thinking about it. Before that, we wanted to be completely relaxed about it – it was just for fun. I learned that if I take the pressure off, it works better. Ingo Gerstl helped me to understand the set-up of the car. I didn’t feel comfortable in the car for a long time, now I feel the car and its limits much better.”

Was verbindet dich mit dem Benetton B197?

EHNINGER: “The car is great, I often stand languishing in front of it. Actually, the car is much too beautiful to drive. You should know, that it’s probably also the Formula 1 car with the most kilometres worldwide!”

What do you need to be able to do to drive a car like that?

EHNINGER: “James Hunt once said, ‘big balls’. Before I get into a car like this, I have quite a mental dilemma When you sit in it, however, it’s gone. But it’s still a huge challenge to drive it. After the first free practice session I’m completely blown away – and confronted with a lot of impressions – that takes a lot of effort. Gerstl pulls the trigger, I have to feel my way. Engineer Dario Pergolini helped me a lot with his analysis tools. I can’t even describe the feeling of driving such a racing car. Acceleration is the quickest thing to get used to, but I’ll never get used to the cornering speeds.”

How did it come about in the first place? You don’t buy a Formula 1 car in a supermarket …

EHNINGER: “I drove endurance races for a long time. But my dream was always to drive a Formula 1 racing car, which I wanted to do for my 50th birthday. The fact that I now own and drive one myself and have already driven almost 3,000 kilometres in it – that’s a dream come true. I drove a sports car in the Jim Clark Revival at the Hockenheimring in 2018. We broke the drive shaft. After the repair, we walked through the paddock late at night. As we passed Phil Stratford’s pits, a sticker said ‘Sale’. Rather jokingly, we then called the number and ended up with Kevin Mansell and Phil Stratford, who informed us about the car the very next day. It then took some time, as the car was in the USA, until we could get started. But our goal has always been to run the car ourselves and not have another team look after it.”

That sounds good, but not easy.

EHNINGER: “I do most of the work myself and also drive the truck. The search for parts can be very tiring, it can take three months to find something. In winter, everything is checked – every sealing ring, the entire chassis for possible damage and so on. The spare parts have to be rebuilt. We are currently working on a solution to increase the short running times of the gearbox. After the race at the Red Bull Ring (3-5 June 2022, note), the engine will then come in for an overhaul.”

Why can’t you get enough of it anyway?

EHNINGER: “I think it’s nice to spend a race weekend together with others. I have been super well welcomed into the BOSS GP. It was always said that only the rich ‘snobs’ race there – but it wasn’t like that. So we enjoy spending a weekend like this as a community rather than attending track days somewhere anonymously. Last year the Italians invited us for dinner, and even though we didn’t know Italian and they didn’t know German, we had a delicious evening of conversation.”

Your team ESBA Racing originally comes from endurance racing, how are you set up?

EHNINGER: “As you rightly say, ESBA already existed before the Benetton, roughly since 2016. We had already bought a truck for it, which we still use today to spend the night at the race tracks. Jochen, with whom I’ve been friends for over 30 years, has been with me from the beginning. When I’m driving, he’s with me. When he rides, I’m with him. I met Jens through a friend. He has become a valuable team member and is now also involved with Glickenhaus. He’s passionate about Benetton, and without him it wouldn’t work at all. Then there is Dario, who has brought professionalism to the team.

Can you briefly summarise your racing career so far?

EHNINGER: “Career is perhaps a little overstated (laughs). More than 20 years ago, I really wanted to race on the Nordschleife. Together with friends we built a BMW E36 M3 – without much time or money. Later I also drove an Audi and a Porsche – even the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring twice. The Nordschleife is certainly the greatest track there is.

What I like about the BOSS GP Racing Series is the way the people tick, that you can have fun together and that politics is in the background. With Pirelli, we have a strong partner and are certainly on the right track. I wish, more being done for young talent.”

What are your plans for the new season?

EHNINGER: “In addition to a few races in the BOSS GP, I will also try to drive another historic race car a few times, namely a V8 Star bolide (German silhouette series from the early 2000s, note) – the original Hasseröder car from Harald Grohs.”

Photos: Angelo Poletto/BOSS GP