Interview with Giancarlo Tinini who reveals – by talking about his drivers who subsequently reached the highest category – what the secrets to becoming champions are.
The best karting companies compete every year to win the main international titles; but their work is also crucial for the improvement of the new generations of drivers.
Why. As is known, the next Formula 1 stars start in karts and, in this sense, the CRG team can definitely give its opinion, given the large number of its drivers over the years that have ended up in the most important motorsport championship.
Let us remind you, among others, Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Alex Zanardi, Robert Kubica, Max Verstappen, Jan Magnussen, Giorgio Pantano, Vitantonio Liuzzi, Giedo Van Der Garde…
But what is the secret of the CRG school? We discussed this with the co-founder and owner of the company: Giancarlo Tinini.Many drivers who switched from CRG, including Hamilton, Rosberg, Kubica and Verstappen, ended up in F1. Is this just by chance?
You also need luck, but without doubt, if I have to point out a difference compared to other top karting teams, it is the way in which we involve young drivers right away in understanding the operation of the chassis and engine.
We do not push them only to drive: we tell all of them to says what they think, not least on the set-up of their karts. And it doesn’t matter if they make mistakes.
The drivers must not only think of turning the steering, brake and accelerate, they must also understand the operation of the vehicle, be able to explain what is happening on the karts to their engineers and, in their opinion, why.
Knowing how to distinguish between a kart that seems to slide to the rear, when this is really understeering and the rear of the kart slips only because it’s the result of the steering wheel being turned too far. This is a classic example, which a driver who merely drives may not understand. I have seen well-known drivers come to us without knowing anything about set-ups.
This is one of the key aspects in CRG: we are used to working this way.
What is a particular anecdote that the CRG school tells its drivers about?
Certainly the “kid” Verstappen.
In an international race, he was with successful drivers who had already won several trophies. He came to me and said ‘Giancarlo, I don’t think like all the others, because I like a trim at the front that fits well”.
Well, it was what I wanted to hear, because we had worked on the front grip.
To say which, in my opinion, are the best talents, I can tell you that my dream is seeing Lewis – Max fight it out in Formula 1.
They are very similar. Both are complete and aggressive. They are fast, determined and have the intelligence to win. If, at the time, Lewis would be behind someone, even if he raced with the same time, he would never get too close.
There is a video on YouTube, a race in Motegi, I think, in which, if I’m not mistaken, Robert Kubica, Colin Brown, Rosberg and Hamilton are racing against each other.
Without having a good engine, Lewis won by inventing something, exploiting the trails of other vehicles … This makes it easy to understand why Hamilton is now an F1 driver.
In your opinion, what other drivers who raced for CRG were superior to others?
Certainly Robert Kubica could get to the top. Unfortunately, he had an accident with his arm. He is very strong and determined, though perhaps a bit “messier”. Robert could do a great lap, then be three tenths slower and then faster again.
Every now and then he would go over the edge and get it wrong: he won a lot while he was with CRG, but we controlled him precisely to prevent him exceeding the limits. He was not so successful with others.
Vandoorne was also with our team for two seasons and he was very good, but I cannot say much because they were only two seasons. He is certainly also a great person.
Raikkonen was with us for just one year: at the time, he was racing with the karts the other drivers rejected, and still managed to stand out.
He was very fast, but perhaps wasn’t able to “strike” like Hamilton or Verstappen.And what about Alex Zanardi? A champion on and off the track?
He is certainly a champion. He called me before a European final saying that he had cut a finger racing with a lamella engine, while he was accustomed to a rotary valve.
Basically, a piece of his finger broke off. He found it and the doctor managed to re-attach it. He drove with a small bottle of Vivin C attached to his finger, mason’s gloves and dressing at the end of each race.
He was suffering, crying, but eventually won the race!
The same for Hamilton.
He broke his hand cycling before the last round of the European Championship. Lewis wore a glove so as not to see that he had a problem. In any case, he was checked out and, after two hours of being suspended from the race, they agreed to let him race.
Lewis won both races.And what about Max?
Well, I can tell you how he recovered from what was perhaps his worst race.
It was a race in the World Cup KZ2 in Sarno, and Max jumped off the track on the first lap, due to a brake-slam effect. It was a shock for him, and he even cried because he realised he had made a mistake.
He admitted it, and in the next race he had already gotten over it.
Returning to the CRG school. What are the other secrets apart from making drivers reason and drive?
When drivers start with CRG they are part of the team.
I hate it when someone starts with the idea that his first enemy is his teammate. If so, as far as I am concerned they can pack up and go home.
Certainly when we are not working as a team. Before the start of each race, I do a briefing with the drivers in which I explain how the team comes first.
The fastest goes first, but there must be no obstacles within the team. They do this in F1, so why shouldn’t we do it?
Our satellite team, Gamoto, is working very well and helping young drivers get better. The ability to teach and make driving and set-ups clear to the young, so patiently, is Gamoto’s strength.
This is demonstrated by the fact that the newcomers are not necessarily good drivers immediately, but they improve faster and their performance constantly progresses.
It is not by chance, in fact, that many of them subsequently end up in the official team.