Colin Kolles leaves HRT

2011 F1 season

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Colin Kolles, HRT, Nurburgring, 2011
Colin Kolles, HRT, Nurburgring, 2011

HRT principal Colin Kolles has left the team.

In a statement HRT said: “Spanish outfit HRT F1 Team and Dr Colin Kolles have reached an agreement to end their cooperation and therefore the team principal will abandon his post on the 15th of December 2011.

“This is due to the new direction that the team has taken and the decision of the new management to move the team headquarters to Spain.

“HRT F1 Team would like to thank Dr Colin Kolles for his work and dedication throughout these past two years and wish him the best in his future projects.”

Kolles arrived in F1 when Midland Group took over Jordan in 2005. He stayed with the team, which later became Spyker and subsequently Force India, before leaving in 2009. He made his return to F1 with HRT early last year.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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44 comments on “Colin Kolles leaves HRT”

  1. Kolles seemed to be in charge of the team… kept it in front of the Virgins.

    Maybe he’s found other opportunities.

    1. Going to Renault

    2. Kolles seemed to be in charge of the team

      HRT has been in a delicate balance for the past two years. Jose Ramon Carabante purchsed the Campos Meta-1 entry from Adrian Campos, but the physical entry was all he ever controlled. Colin Kolles owned the team infrastructure and their actual ability to operate on a day-to-day basis. Even though the team was run under a Spanish racing licence, they were actually based in Germany for the most part. Ever since Thesan Capital took control of the entry from Carabante, they have been trying to consolidate HRT under one leadership. If Kolles has left HRT, then that means Thesan have control of both the entry and in the infrastructure, which is a major step for them. I’ve actually been waiting for this for a while now – Pedro de la Rosa signed a two-year deal with the team because he was impressed with their plans for the next few years. Getting everyone singing from the same song sheet is the first step in that process.

      The question now becomes who will take over as team principal? My money is on someone from Addax. Addax shut down their GP3 operations this year to “concentrate on their GP2 arm”, but they are pretty much the benchmark in GP2. Their end of season run was a little sloppy, but they still came away as teams’ champions for the first time in 2008. So they’ve got a whole lot of personnel just sitting there, officially being reassigned to improve something that doesn’t really need improving. I think Thesan have recognised that the quickest and easiest way to a) get where they want to be and b) retain their identity as Formula 1’s Spanish team is to ally themselves with the premier Spanish team in Formula 1, Addax.

      And ironically enough, Addax was purchased from Adrian Campos – the man whose mismanagement started all this mess – so that he could focus on Formula 1.

      1. Well, @prisoner-monkeys, I don’t think its entirely fair to blame Campos for the state that team is now in.

        But for the rest, your post sounds pretty much right. Surely it would not have made sense for them to keep Kolles there, with his German factory, when they decided for better or for worse, to have their plant in Spain (Valencia?).
        I also guess it means Thesan Capital have payed Kolles for the work in the past year and a half, as most of that was done without recieving payment before.

        1. I don’t think its entirely fair to blame Campos for the state that team is now in.

          Kolles said that when he got to Campos, it was little more than six guys in a warehouse outside Barcelona. Adrian Campos made the same mistake that Alain Prost did a few years ago – he overestimated the demand for a “national” team. While the Spaniards love Formula 1, they don’t care too much for anything beyond Fernando Alonso. Jaime Alguersuari, Pedro de la Rosa and HRT don’t really have the same gravitas with the public that Alonso does. Adrian Campos evidently wanted to tap into that public consciousness, but ended up over-estimating it. Spain never really took to HRT as a Spanish team. They struggled to find sponsors, had one of the highest turnovers of key staff of any team, formed an alliance with a sports agency (Meta Image) that didn’t really understand Formula 1, and quickly ran out of money. It was a trainwreck, and the fact that Hispania actually managed to make it to Bahrain with two cars should be recoginsed by the Vatican as a miracle.

          1. COTD. :D

          2. Well, sure. Campos failed to bring the team to the start of the 2010 season.

            He had been counting on a sub 40million budget (as had USF1 and Manor/Virgin). And the economic crises setting in surely did not help to get enough backing.
            Carabante only stepped in, because most of the money that was in the team was his.

            But that is where Campos responsibility ended. Carabante messed up, not in the least because of fraudulent actions inside his own company. So he found this new investor and sold out. And they seem to be further from reality than Carabante was or Campos.
            Carabante was lucky to find Kolles in my opinion, because except that warehouse and by now maybe some 100 people, the rest is still only Kolles team doing almost everything.

            I am curious to see how they will cope next year. Bets are on to see if they will really be able to beat last years benchmark and get a running car to the tests.
            I would not bet on it.

          3. …the fact that Hispania actually managed to make it to Bahrain with two cars should be recoginsed by the Vatican as a miracle.

            And it’s hilariously true!

        2. @BasCB, didn’t you rather mean:

          I don’t think its fair to but the blame entirely and solely on Campos for the state that team is now in.

          As @prisoner-monkeys says, surely a lot of the blame is attributable to him. Even with the budget cap and all, the team still would have had issues. But quite likely less glaring faults.

          1. No @bosyber, Campos failed to react to both the budget cap being dropped and the economical crisis.
            But as he has not been involved in the team for 2 years now, its not his fault the team is still not much better off as when he signed if off to Carabante.

    3. I duno i think it’s more likely the new management decided to let someone else have a go, I hope he does get a job somewhere else because i think you have to respect anyone who could keep hrt afloat.

  2. Hmm, didn’t see that one coming. Anyone know who is in the running to take his position?

  3. He doesn’t get my sympathy vote, but he kept HRT surviving, for that hats of to mr. Kolles

    1. If nothing else he is the man that kept them going.

      Where they go now is up to the new team leader.

      I hate this Spanish crap. Ferrari have Brits and Mclaren have Italians. Why? Because F1 is bigger than that. you get the best men you can and go with it.

      1. Would you still call it crap if it was British national team??

        1. Well considering that would be like the “Rover F1 Team” …personally I would.

    2. My thoughts exactly @verstappen! He is apparently good at keeping struggling teams far enough above water until they find a life-raft of some sort.

  4. I hope the use of the word “abandon” is merely something lost in translation, because it sounds a bit strongly worded to me!

    1. I love the use of the phrase “abandon” – makes me imagine that, come 15 December, Kolles will be nowhere to be seen and the factory doors will have been left unlocked, the windows all open, noone answering the phones or responding to emails…

      1. haha yeah, and a dog barking behind a fence! ‘Leave’ or ‘step down’ would have been fine I think!

        I know HRT were dog slow at points, but they’ve done a better job than Virgin over the past couple of years, so I would be surprised if Kolles isn’t picked up by someone else.

      2. It left me with visions of Colin escaping a sinking ship… …hopefully this is not the intention of Hispania’s PR!

    2. The word in Spanish for “abandon” (abandonar) also translates into “leaves”, “gives up” or “let go”, depending on context. So I think this may be someone picking the translation that looked the closest to the original word instead of the one that makes most contextual sense.

  5. The one guy who kept the team alive… and the new owners let him go?

    If I understand this correctly, it won’t just be Kolles leaving, but all his assets as well. So when they set up shop in Madrid or whereever it will be in Spain, they’ll pretty much be starting from scratch.

    And thus begins another off-season of uncertainty over HRT’s future.

    1. Well the new owners must feel they have the cash ready to invest or this would be an insane move.

    2. @journeyer

      So when they set up shop in Madrid or whereever it will be in Spain, they’ll pretty much be starting from scratch.

      Unless Thesan Capital have already cut a deal with another team to run HRT. Who do we know that has a good reputation, a proven track record for getting results, infrastructure in place and recently shut down one of their feeder series teams?

      Alejandro Agag.

      1. If Joe S reads this blog, you would make him very proud. ;)

        Still, if this is the direction they’re going in, they should make the announcement soon. Best to get that out of the way and allow them to pick up (Spanish) sponsors ASAP.

        1. Actually, I don’t think they’ll make a big deal out of it at all. They won’t want to be seen as an off-shoot of Addax. Instead, they’ll simply carry on and Addax will reap the benefits later. What those benefits might be escapes me right now.

  6. I just hope whoever replaces him isn’t another Eric Boullier. Keeping HRT running was no mean feat, so whoever takes the baton after Kolles must be as tough as nails.

    1. @scuderiavincero Me too. I don’t think many people are in the Eric Boullier fanclub.

      1. Think it’s safe to say when eric is ousted he won’t be running any other formula one team.

  7. The new direction of the team…what’s that, backwards?

    Sorry, couldn’t resist.

  8. Bit of a surprise! Not really sure how much HRT will miss him. Clearly they have a bit more in the way of investment these days so perhaps it won’t be as hard a slog as thought.

    I never really took to the guy, he doesn’t strike me as being particularly approachable.

    Should be an interesting 2012 for HRT.

    1. @AndrewTanner How well HRT survive next year will certainly show the extent of Colin Kolles’ influence on the team. The team will have to show that their strength is more than just the presence of one man, if they are to be in Formula 1 for the long term.

      1. The long term requires a better paint job on the car, the 2011 car was one of the worst looking Grand Prix cars of ALL time.

        1. RUBBISH! One of the best of the year, I loved it!

          1. Better than the Ferrari on a sunny day??? Ok…you are so far the only person on earth that feels that way…

          2. No i’m not. I remember when it was launched. Plenty of people on here thought it looked really good, retro and fun!

            Better than the Ferrari, yes. But better than the R30 from last year? No way.

  9. I know this is a crazy idea, but… anyone interested to revive those Kolles-to-Williams to rumors right now? ;)

    1. I reckon Williams could do worse.

      1. williams are doing worse, they’ve got Adam Parr.

  10. BIG mistake. While Kolles may not be the most inspired choice, he has kept that team from falling into oblivion for two years, and he’s a competent pair of hands when given a small team to keep going. Hopefully HRT will find a suitable replacement.

    All I’ll say is good luck to Dr. Kolles on his future endeavours. I believe I’m right in saying that he ran a Le Mans team, so he might go back to that.

  11. Why not combine the two teams and call them WRT. Didn’t they tie for the bad team of the year award? At least the Williams would win the tie breaker as it has a proper paint job….

  12. So where will Colin Kolles end up now?

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