INTERVIEW WITH…ANDREA CALDARELLI
Looking back on a whirlwind 2019 season
Last season was a year like no other for Andrea Caldarelli. The former single seater driver turned GT star embarked on his first GT World Challenge Europe campaign with FFF Racing, the team he co-runs with boss Fu YongSong. A maiden year in any series for a relatively new team is difficult enough, but it’s even more so given the level of competition in GT World Challenge.
The result was sensational: Caldarelli – alongside team-mates Marco Mapelli and Dennis Lind – helped FFF achieve a remarkable feat of capturing the Teams’ title as well as the Sprint and Endurance Drivers’ championships at the end of the year.
We sat down with Caldarelli at last season’s Lamborghini World Finals at Jerez de la Frontera to reflect on an amazing year for Lamborghini Squadra Corse.
“It’s always difficult to know what to expect when a new car is coming out, to see where the season would go,” the Italian said.
“But we knew that the car was very well balanced, we knew that the car was performing very well, but then at the end of the season we exceeded our own expectations because we basically won almost everything we could have in one season. It was an amazing season for Lamborghini.”
Despite starting the season on home soil at Monza, the opening Endurance round of the year was a tricky one for the Lamborghini squad. The team bagged a podium in the hands of Franck Perera, Phil Keen and Giovanni Venturini, but Caldarelli was left ruing a missed opportunity both in Italy and at the following Endurance round at Silverstone.
“It was a chaotic race. At that point, after all the winter testing, we didn’t really know where we were heading, but we went to the first race and we saw that we might have a chance.
“We missed a podium with our car [#563] and another one at Silverstone because of a stupid mistake we did, but after that, I think our season was a bit like a crescendo.”
Caldarelli says he was happy to start the 2019 season as a relative underdog, but also admits that the team had to find their way to success quickly, something which happened after their breakthrough first win of the year at Misano Adriatico.
“We started as the underdog to start with, and because we didn’t have a chance to do anything differently, that tag had to suit me as a boss. To compete at such a high level in Europe, we had to learn our way a bit. In this championship though, you don’t have to be a superstar all the time, you don’t have to always win, you just need to be there and in the fight. It’s teamwork and something you have to build together so it takes time.”
It is a mentality and team spirit backed up by Caldarelli’s title-winning team-mate Mapelli, whereby ‘superstars’ are replaced by hard-working members all fighting for the same goal.
“The little secret in the recipe [of what makes a team successful] is that no-one is bigger than the team, we’re not superstars, we’re team-mates and we work together for the benefit of the entire team. If we each do our little jobs well, then it all adds up in the end. “This is how I see this kind of racing, in single seaters it is of course different because you are only one in the car. For endurance racing, it’s another story as you need to rely on the individual aspects of many people over a long race distance to make it work and ultimately, win.”