Interview with Comma Technical Partner DAMS
For DAMS success goes much further than securing the 2014 GP2 Series Teams' championship...
Can you tell us a little about how the DAMS team was founded, how big it is now and what championships you compete in?
DAMS is a professional racing team founded in 1988 by Jean-Paul Driot and former Ferrari F1 driver René Arnoux, initially to contest the FIA International F3000 Championship. The team now competes in the GP2 Series and Formula Renault 3.5 Series single-seater championships. Since the beginning of 2014, DAMS is also involved in the new FIA-Formula E Championship, the world's first fully-electric racing series. In this new racing category we provide the technical and logistical support for "e.dams", a new team founded by four times Formula 1 World Champion Alain Prost and Jean-Paul Driot.
Currently the team is composed of 35 full-time staff and is based just a few kilometres from the legendary Le Mans circuit in France.
You have secured your third GP2 Series drivers title in four years with Jolyon Palmer. How do you feel about the teams performance in GP2 this year?
This year has been an incredible season, we managed to win not only the GP2 Series Drivers' and Teams' Titles but also the Formula Renault 3.5 Drivers' and Teams' Titles with Carlos Sainz Jr. It is something that has never been done before. This incredible achievement is the result of hard work, dedication and motivation of all our staff and off course the great talents of our drivers. It is always important to have the right people in the right place!
From the team's perspective, can you name one important factor that has been key to your impressive ongoing success?
One of the key factors is the people working with us, from the engineers, mechanics to the drivers and the way they are all working together. Without them nothing would have been possible.
What do you think was Jolyon's main advantage during the 2014 championship. Experience? His approach? Your team strategy and organisation?
Jolyon has been extremely impressive this year. One of his biggest strength is his capacity to "deliver", to perform when it matters. For example he managed to get 8 front row grid positions out of 11 in Qualifying sessions, this is something no one in the past managed to do. He has also been very strong all season long to fight and overtake during races. These are key points that built his successful season.
DAMS has also had success this season in other championships such as FR 3.5 – does each race series require a unique approach?
It's not exactly the same, the two categories are similar but there is still some differences. The format of the racing weekend is different, tyres are different.... Technically it requires a differrent approach. In fact what is really similar is the way we operate, the way we prepare the race meeting and the way we work with the drivers. And still the main point is the way our people are working together!
What is your opinon on the introduction of DRS to GP2 next year?
DRS will bring more overtaking and therefore even more fun for the racing. Although Jolyon demonstrates all along this year that overtaking is possible, it will bring even more show and it will train the drivers for F1.
What is the last check you perform on the GP2 car before a race start?
The last checks on the grid before the start of the race are the engine temperature, and the thightening of the wheels.
Is there a desire to one day step up to Formula 1 with a DAMS Grand Prix team?
DAMS already built a Formula 1 car, it was in 1995. The car is currently hanging on the workshop wall. In fact it never raced because the budget was too small to step up to F1.
Today the budget is still to high for a small company like DAMS. But if, the FIA implement in the future a very strong cost reduction, we might be interested to study again such a project.
Comma is your GP2 Series Technical Partner. What does this support mean to you?
At this level of competition success comes with the quality of the people around you but also thanks to the quality of the suppliers you have selected and you are working with. Comma has been very supportive of the DAMS team. They have taken the time to discuss with us and take into account our requirements. All through the season they managed to deliver products with the right level of quality we were expecting to help us deliver the best performances.
If you could sign one driver – from past or present – who would that be and why?
Jolyon really deserves a drive in Formula 1 for 2015, but if he would be still available, I would like to sign him again. He has an impressive pace but also an incredible willingness and determination to win.