Colin Holies

He may be Fl's only Burberry cap-wearing dentist but why did he name HRT after a well-known medical treatment? And does he really own one of Hitler's cars? The jovial yet slightly unnerving team boss see you now...

WORDS james roberts PORTRAITS lorenzo bellanca/lat

Dr Colin Kolles is not a man you want to get on the wrong side of. He is a forceful, uncompromising operator who gets results and has established himself with a reputation as a man who is adept at rescuing teams from the financial abyss. He's a fighter; a survivor.

Romanian-born Kolles studied dentistry in Germany after his family fled the Ceausescu regime, but he always had a passion for racing. When Jordan found themselves in dire financial straits at the end of 2004, Kolles stepped in, with investment from Midland boss Alex Shnaider, and rescued the team. He also steered the Silverstone-based squad through various guises as Spyker and, subsequently, Force India, helping to move the team up the grid.

Kolles took up the reins of the Campos outfit at the 11th hour this season and transformed them into Hispania. With two drivers secured, he worked miracles to get the team onto the 2010 grid. The plan now is to take them off the back row. It's a tough job and he's already split with chassis manufacturer Dallara following a disagreement between the two parties. The first question put to Kolles attacks this subject head on. "Why did you split with Dallara?" He stares intensely then quietly states: "For obvious reasons." He follows this with his trademark intimidating silence... This interview could be over sooner than we think. "What are those obvious reasons?" His response is direct: "I thought I only had to answer the question on the card, 1 didn't know you are allowed to ask me more questions." Er, this Q&A session has to fill six pages and could get rather tricky. I suggest another card. Kolles looks down at it in disdain. "1 don't answer this one."

What? This is a disaster. Why not?

"It's not addressed to me."

One look at the card gives the explanation. A spelling mistake has crept in. It reads 'Collin' Kolles. Then he bursts out laughing. The Hispania team principal, as you'll see, is never one to be underestimated...

Having failed miserably at Jordan/ Midland/Spyker what makes you think you're going to succeed with HRT?

Gerry Moriartij. Ireland I don't think that we failed at Force India - I think that we succeeded. I think that the people who are in charge now will fail because everything I have done, I've done by myself, including the windtunnel upgrade, the decision to run a complete engine and gearbox package and to put .lames Key in charge of development and Simon Phillips in charge of the windtunnel aero project. We have done a very good job and we have built the team up to be a mid-grid team, to be competitive, close to the top, and I can assure Mr [reads name on card] Moriarty that the success of the team these days has nothing to do with the people in charge...

Colin, what do you think about team orders? Most people believe they arc-part of the game - do you agree? Would you ever tell your drivers to change their positions to benefit the team? Marcos Gome/. Revuelta, Spain Of course I would tell them. But when I tell them, it will look different to how other teams have done it in the past. It wouldn't be so obvious and I wouldn't be breaking the regulations because nobody would take any notice of it... I'm not in a position to criticise what another team have done but, I tell you, you can do it in a way where no one would take any notice of you. You can do it cleverly and I think I could do it more cleverly than Ferrari. The interests of the team is the priority, not the driver, and, again, I think it's how you manage the situation. You give team orders to drivers to tell them how to behave in the first

corner. Is that breaking the regulations? It's all about how you manage so-called 'team orders'.

What do you make of Bernie Ecclestone's comments that the new teams have brought little to the sport?

Ours Singh. USA

Well, he's right. We haven't brought too much to the sport up until now. We have to achieve results. We have to be here for more years and then we have to create something worthwhile for the sport. He says Lotus is a nice name and would like to keep it in Formula 1, but he's not saying that they are doing okay. The new teams have to establish themselves. We have to prove we have the right to be here.

Dr Kolles, how helpful is it for the team to exchange their regular drivers race by race with someone nowhere near as good as them, not just for car development consistency, but also for driver morale? Ian Hushncll, UK

Look at Bruno Senna's qualifying and race results in Germany after he'd been dropped for the British Grand Prix: it helped him. Sometimes pressure is not so bad. If a driver is not sitting in the car one weekend, he should think about the reasons why he's not sitting in the car that weekend. He should think very carefully. I think this will help him as a person and also mentally. It was not a financial decision. Bruno did a good job after Silverstone - maybe in other races he did not do everything right.

What happened to your Burberry cap?

Padeepa Munoj, UK

I still have it. You want me to wear it again? I'll bring it to the next race. In Australia, back in 2005, our marketing director told me I had sunburn and that I should buy a hat. By coincidence, in the lobby of the hotel we were staying in, there was a Burberry shop, so I went and bought myself a Burberry cap. And this was the big blow. Then at the end of the season, all the mechanics wore Burberry caps and 1 had a T-shirt that read 'Chavski.' I must still have that T-shirt somewhere, but I'm not looking to wear it every day. [laughs]

Here's an easy question for you. Do HRT have enough money to: a) finish the 2010 season; and b) compete in Formula 1 in 2011?

Phil Remoick. UK

We will finish the season. We will be on the grid next year. I think as long as I have something to say in this team, we will be on the grid. I am personally confident. I don't know if all the teams will be on the grid next year. Probably not, but I do not know the balance sheets of the creditors list of the other teams. To be honest with you, to keep a team alive you need the right balance. 1 don't say that we have the right balance, but I think that I know how to keep a team alive and also to move it forward. And there are some other people who don't know this. I'm confident that as long as people are listening, we will be there.

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