A1 Team Monaco 2008/09 Season Review - playing with the big boys! Monaco: At the end of its first season in the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport, Team Monaco and driver Clivio Piccione finished in 9th place in the Championship with 35 points, just...
A1 Team Monaco 2008/09 Season Review - playing with the big boys!
Monaco: At the end of its first season in the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport, Team Monaco and driver Clivio Piccione finished in 9th place in the Championship with 35 points, just one point away from 7th place! The Monegasque squad kept improving from one race to the next and demonstrated the full extent of its potential, giving the more experienced teams and drivers a real run for their money. Clivio Piccione looks back on this exciting adventure; the official launch of the team took place in Monaco in the presence of HSH Prince Albert II on September 25th 2008, just ten days before the first A1GP event in Zandvoort (Netherlands).
You started from scratch and took up the challenge; is that a victory in itself?
CP: I wouldn't quite go that far, but I would say that it is the culmination of a project, with all the complexity, the doubts and the risks that that involves. Even though it was not always easy, we followed through and ended up proving that A1 Team Monaco belongs at this level of the competition. I was really proud to represent my country in the World Cup of Motorsport.
How would you sum up your results for the 2008/09 season?
CP: Our goal was to finish in the top ten in our first season and we achieved that. We missed a few opportunities to make it on to the podium, particularly in Portugal and possibly at Brands Hatch, which means that we would have been capable of doing even better. The team kept improving as the season went along and the operation of our car was one of our strong points. Starting from nothing and ending up doing so well in such a short time [just eight months] was not exactly a piece of cake. The whole team worked very hard and I want to thank everybody, including our team manager Graham Taylor, whose experience got us off to a fast start and enabled us to react effectively in a lot of situations.
What is your best memory?
CP: Kyalami in South Africa was definitely the most memorable event because we earned pole position in the qualifiers and got a place on the podium in the Feature race. After spending the first four races on a learning curve that was the point in the season when we really turned a corner and since then we were amongst the frontrunners.
Do you have any regrets?
CP: At Brands Hatch and Portimao, the two events after Kyalami, we could have repeated the performance we gave in South Africa. In Portugal I was fifth in the main race when the US and Italian teams held on in front of me and the Italian car, driven by Liuzzi, cut off my momentum. It was disappointing not to score any points and not to have demonstrated our full potential. It was very frustrating at the time to end the weekend like that, when the podium had been within our reach, but the main thing is that we displayed our performance on the track. Then at Brands, in the last race of the season, the start was good but not perfect. I was powerless against the Irish team, which took the lead right from the start. Initially I was able to keep up the pace, but it's just too bad that we took too long over our first pit stop. That was what lost us any chance of making it to the podium. Overtaking is very tricky on that track, so first I had to put up with driving in the wake of the Portuguese car and then the Swiss one after our second pit stop. It's a bit disappointing to finish just off the podium, right behind number three. It's well known that Brands Hatch is a hard place to overtake, so mistakes are very costly there.
In what areas would you like to see some improvement?
CP: In future we must perform better during pit stops. We lost some crucial points that way this season and we absolutely must do better. We have already improved in that area, but not enough to catch up with the top teams.
Has a second season for A1 Team Monaco been confirmed?
CP: Every day since the last race at Brands Hatch early in May, I have been devoting my time to my role as team leader. My associate Hubertus Bahlsen and I have been negotiating with potential partners and attending one meeting after another. I hope we will be able to raise enough funds to participate in the 2009/10 season which starts in late September in Surfer's Paradise, Australia.