Luigi Mazzola, the new Chief Engineer for Team Lazarus in GP2, has been speaking to The Checkered Flag about the team’s preparation for the 2015 season and how the former Ferrari man is aiming to bring a winning mentality to the Italian team.
Mazzola spent more than 20 years with Ferrari as manager in track operations which included working as a race engineer, test team manager and car performance development manager.
Mazzola is also an experienced driver coach and has worked with drivers such as Michael Schumacher, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell.
These days though Mazzola is plying his trade with Team Lazarus in GP2. The Italian team have struggled so far in GP2 and have only collected 13 points since 2012 but Mazzola says the team are prepared for the new season.
“The preparation of the cars has been already done in January with new engines and rebuild parts after the 2014 long season,” Mazzola told The Checkered Flag.
“In terms of team crew we reinforced, even more, the quality of the mechanics and the engineers through new members and new procedures.
“We are ready and focused to improve our performance in order to give to our drivers the possibility to enjoy driving.”
Mazzola says the team are pushing hard to improve in 2015. Ever the competitor, Mazzola doesn’t just want to participate, he wants the team to get results and his first aim for 2015 is to pick up a podium.
“I’m try to bring with me the winning mentality,” said Mazzola. “I’m not here just to participate.”
“Of course we have to be realistic and know we need humility and a lot of effort from every one in order to reach the top level. We are pushing to get a podium and if that means a victory it will be a fantastic result.”
With his winning mentality Mazzola also brings a large amount of expectation with him and he told The Checkered Flag that the pressure of working at Ferrari is no different to working with Lazarus.
“Ferrari is a special team where you must win, at the moment I’m trying to bring this mentality to Lazarus.
“It’s not only pressure, I have to say it’s more commitment from every one to give our best and aiming to be together with the top teams. It’s a big switch for everyone.”
Lazarus are yet to name their drivers for the 2015 season but Mazzola believes he can help the team pick out talented youngsters to help drive the team forward. He also hopes to secure Ferrari Driver Academy graduates in the near future.
“I can understand the talent and the quality of a driver and I can also be a support for them as a mental coach. A good sharing of techniques and mental attitude could be a good cocktail for a young, motivated driver.
“We are also open to the Ferrari Driver Academy as much as we can. think from our side we need to prove the team performance with better results and continuity, after that I’m pretty sure we could be a good reference team for them.”
The team will also be hoping to use Mazzola’s talent’s as a driver coach as well to help nurture whoever they bring into the squad.
“A driver needs competence to drive the car of course but what he needs more is to know how to be in the present while is driving,” said Mazzola.
“He has to understand that only in the present can he use all his capability. To be in the present will kill all the anxiety and all the fears.
“This requires a lot of effort to learn but when a driver is able to do it he will be a champion. That’s what I learnt from Alain, Michael, Ayrton and Valentino Rossi.”
The Italian also described Alain Prost as one of the favourite driver he has worked with in his long and illustrious career.
“In my heart and in my mind Alain and Michael (Schumacher) have a special place,” said Mazzola.
“But for sure Alain was the easiest to get along with, we were very similar in the commitment to win, in the relationship, in the capacity to live with the high physical and mental stress at that time, and the curiosity to look into every detail of the car in order to make it the fastest one.”