Andrea Caldarelli : “To learn as much as possible”

TOYOTA Racing Junior Driver, Andrea Caldarelli was also at Paul Ricard circuit for the first test of the TS030 HYBRID. Former member of the TOYOTA Young Driver Programme, the Italian driver is ready to reach the next level.

Can you explain your past relationship with TOYOTA?
From 2007 I worked together with TOYOTA and TMG as a member of the TOYOTA Young Driver Programme (TDP). I was part of the TDP scheme for three years and even had the chance to drive the Formula 1 car a few times in 2008 and 2009. I really learned a lot from working with TOYOTA during that time and basically all my motorsport knowledge is thanks to the work I did then. It was really good to be part of it and it was a big help in my career.

What have you been doing since 2009?
After the TDP scheme ended I started racing in Italian Formula 3 after finding some sponsors to help me. I was fighting for the championship all the way until the last race and I finished third in the end. I was expecting to race in GP3 throughout 2011 and I was all prepared for a strong season. I did the first four races and finished in the top five in each of them, so I was geared up to fight for a title again. But I was given a huge opportunity to move to Japan in Formula Nippon so I took the chance. It was a good choice in the end! At the same time, I was part of an evaluation of more than a hundred drivers for the FIA Institute Young Driver Excellence Academy and I was selected as part of a final group of 18. We already did two workshops up to now and it’s been really interesting.

And who is giving you advice at the FIA Institute?
Alex Wurz! He is a mentor in the Academy so he is a bit like my teacher there. It was great to see him earlier this week, especially now we are colleagues with TOYOTA Racing. It’s nice to have a familiar face in the team right from the start, although I also know a few of the TMG guys. I recognised some faces from TMG’s time in F1 when I got to Paul Ricard and as I am spending more time with the team I am getting to know everyone better. It’s nice to be part of the family again!

How do you get on with the other drivers?
It is a different situation in endurance racing compared to single-seaters, where you have your own personal car and your team-mate is in another car; that makes him part of the competition. This is really a team effort so it is vitally important to have a good relationship with the other drivers. Team work pays off in the end in terms of race results so it’s in everyone’s interests to work together, and I am happy to say there is a really good atmosphere among the TOYOTA Racing drivers.

You spent a lot of time in Japan last year, what were your impressions?
I still lived in Italy last season but I was commuting to Japan and it felt like I spent more time there than in Italy! I really like Japan and the Japanese people are great to work with. It is fantastic to be race in Japan because the fans are something special; they create a unique atmosphere.

What is your role in 2012?
I will work in the simulator at TMG and I hope I can help the team to develop the car, as well as developing myself as a driver. Also, I will go to the races and join the engineering meetings to really learn the details of endurance racing. It is a new discipline for me but I am looking forward to getting more and more experience as the year goes on.

What are your targets for 2012?
It’s a pretty simple answer: to learn as much as possible. I want to be ready for whatever opportunities may come up in the future so the more experience I can gain, the better. The car looks really awesome and I really want to get behind the wheel! But I need to take things step by step so for the moment I am concentrating on learning and developing to prepare myself for the future. It’s not easy to watch the other guys out there driving the TOYOTA TS030 HYBRID because it looks fantastic and I have such a passion to drive race cars. But I am focused on my task this season.