#F1 Forensics: An interview with Kolles Snr

Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor landroni

Editors Note: Further to the Caterham piece published last month and the ProSport interview with Constantin Cojocar, TJ13 contributor Landroni has translated an interview ProSport (Interviu bizar cu tatăl românului Kolles, cel mai controversat om din Formula 1) had with Colin Kolles’ dad. This is part of the work looking into Caterham F1, who has since made all their staff redundant. The few that will be going to Abu Dhabi will be paid a ‘consultancy’ fee but more on this later.

A bizarre interview with the father of Romanian Kolles, the most controversial character in F1

ProSport has contacted the father of Colin Kolles, Romulus. Currently in Germany, “ill and tied to a bed”, he did not refuse to discuss [with us]. Affable, Kolles senior discussed for about 10 minutes about Formula 1, but also about Radu Banciu [a Romanian journalist]. “Banciu is my favorite. I love him. Wherever I go, I take a laptop with me and watch Banciu. He is a normal person, very cultivated, but there he plays a role.” But what is the role of the son of Romulus Kolles in F1? The answers of the father, in the interview below.

Question: Mr Kolles, we would like to discuss with you about the involvement of your son and yourself at Caterham…

Romulus Kolles: I was a director for a short period of time, [but] I didn’t accept… I sent some people there, to find out everything that is happening there and to take notes [of everything], and to film.

Q: After you retired [from the firm]?

RK: Then too. [Probably meaning that the spying was happening both during his tenure and after his retirement from the firm.] I could take part in a game that I couldn’t play. And these people were three Romanians, one an ex policeman from Hunedoara, another a former footballer or whatever he was…

Q: [Constantin] Cojocar…

RK: Yes. They were there and were taking notes of absolutely everything that was happening in there and… Absolutely everything, every move, how the situation was evolving. I have written information, [that] I received in writing from these people. I paid for many months for people to spy there. So that… I can’t tell you about anything else since I…

Q: Why did you ask them to do this?

RK: I can’t tell you [this].

Q: Are your spies still there?

RK: No, no, they did their job, and reported to me in writing.

TJ13 comment: Why on earth would a director have external spies in his own firm? (It is interesting that the former policeman and former football player are both from Hunedoara in Romania.) Wouldn’t a director simply need to go to his hierarchical inferiors and, you know, direct them?

But more importantly, what makes him qualified to participate in the recovery of a faltering F1 team? He has had experience with the team Kodewa from 2000 in Formula 3, in Le Mans Series and in the WEC, but the man has never had any recent experience (or at all) in an F1 operation.

So why would the new owners put a neophyte in a key position at Caterham, one week after takeover? And to state the obvious, in what universe a director allegedly representing the interests of “Swiss-Arab investors” would nominate three Romanian spies to document all movement happening in the firm? And why is it that the first thing that he mentions when asked about Caterham is those 3 Romanian spies?

Q: Cojocar is still there, as a director.

RK: How do you know this? [Where did you get this information?] (Ed. note: This information was confirmed by Cojocar himself.) I don’t know anything. Please understand! Even if I knew, I wouldn’t tell you. […]

Q: It’s very difficult to understand what is happening at Caterham. Some say that you son is involved with the team, others say that he isn’t…

RK: My son has nothing to do with Caterham. What I mean is that he is not involved in the sense that he was simply a “Berator”, meaning an adviser.

Q: A consultant.

RK: Yes. And when he saw what was happening, he didn’t want to go there any more. He wouldn’t accept it anymore. I can’t tell you more.

TJ13 comment: The Kolles’ obviously feel the need to distance themselves from all things Caterham. If Kolles Jr was only an adviser, how on earth did Kolles Sr get appointed as a director? If not by Kolles Jr himself? It is blindingly obvious that Kolles Jr was hardly a mere “adviser” who had “nothing to do with Caterham”. He was certainly calling (some of) the shots at Caterham.

Q: How could I get in touch with Colin [Kolles]?

RK: You can’t. I think he is in the US right now…

Q: At Austin, at the F1 GP?

RK: No, somewhere else. He also had to go in China, too. We have cars there. Lmb1 [probably meant LMP1].

Q: When he is back, could we discuss [with him]?

RK: I don’t know. I am very sick, I had a small accident. I only stay in bed, and I need to get operated.

Q: I wanted to ask you whether Forza Rossa is coming…

RK: (Raises his voice for the first time) I don’t know. I don’t know anything about Forza Rossa. I can’t tell you anything. Ask those who were involved. But I don’t know if the Romanians can go through with this team. All the games were for Forza Rossa, but I don’t know anything… I don’t know anything.

Q: What do you expect that will happen?

RK: I don’t expect anything. I only suspect that I am sick, that’s all.

Q: Get well soon…

RK: Thank you. (Follows discussion about Radu Banciu)

Q: It would be a big surprise to see your son at Forza Rossa.

RK: No, he won’t get involved [there] at all. But someone else will get involved. A Romanian from there.

Q: From Romania or from Caterham?

RK: From Romania, that one needs to fight.

Q: It’s ex [health] minister Bazac…

RK: Yes, yes, absolutely. Forget about my son. He has other matters [to attend to].

Q: Does he want to stay in F1 after this unpleasant experience with Caterham?

RK: It doesn’t matter. It’s not unpleasant, at all. At all. (Ed. note: In the beginning he insisted that his son has had enough of the Caterham affair.) You will see in the end.

But know that he helped them to obtain from Ecclestone, as it’s hard to reach Ecclestone [for a meeting], he helped them to get the approval. [Probably he means that Colin Kolles helped Forza Rossa to get Ecclestone’s approval for an F1 entry.]

All approvals are very difficult to obtain. But there was a need for a guarantee [collateral], or something like that. I think the Romanians [probably means Forza Rossa] didn’t have [one].

Q: The Swiss from Blick are speculating on a $500,000 dollars sum…

RK: No, no. More, it’s a different sum. I can’t tell you. Please believe me. I am not involved in F1. I am involved in endurance races. In China, in Japan, in America. When you want to discuss something with me, it should be on this.

TJ13 comment: Although Kolles Sr is at first eager to deny involvement in Forza Rossa, he clearly has insider knowledge about the project. Interestingly he indicates that Kolles Jr was instrumental to Forza Rossa when dealing with Ecclestone, in order to obtain the F1 entry for the new team.

We should not forget that in June 2014 the marketing director Forza Rossa declared to the press that Colin Koles would be instrumental in setting up the Forza Rossa team, and while Caterham was bought beginning of July and placed in administration in October, in beginning of November all of sudden they declare that there is no official relationship between Colin Kolles and Forza Rossa and that Kolles’ involvement with Caterham was his personal choice.

Moreover, even though Kolles Sr is at first eager to point out Kolles Jr was disillusioned with what was happening at Caterham to the point he “wouldn’t accept it anymore”, later he indicates that the Caterham experience “wasn’t unpleasant at all” for Kolles Jr. As with the Cojocar interview, this man seems to be slipping to the press more than he would have wanted to. All said, as ProSport put it, a weird interview…

And by the day it is getting harder and harder not to notice the Romanian trail in this affair…

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7 responses to “#F1 Forensics: An interview with Kolles Snr

    • I thought about this, too, but then it’s maybe a very biased view as this is pretty much the only Romanians that people have heard of in the world of F1. As a mental exercise, are all Brits involved in F1 whiter than snow?

      From the top of my head, the F1 world has been blessed with the charming delights of one English lad called Bernard (aka the toad from Suffolk, a pathological manipulator and certified briber, lately getting a high from homosexual one night stands with assorted dictators), and another one going by the Spank Nazi (who has some very mature sexual preferences, and is the very one who has sowed the seeds to the current world of disarray in F1).

      So what is worse? Screwing up a dying F1 team (by a bunch of sick Romanians); or messing up with an entire a business and in the process driving several F1 teams out of existence, and still counting, (by a bunch of sick Brits)? The first is frowned upon (and rightly so!), while the latter happens in plain sight and with the stamp of approval of all those sycophantic by-standers from within the F1 bubble… Just because we’ve gotten used to the abuse by Bernard or Spanky, it doesn’t mean that it’s all nice and dandy, or better than what the Kolles’ have inflicted upon the Caterham staff…

  1. To be honest it sounds like Kolles Snr. is very ill and on some powerful meds – I’m really not sure that this is a fair or just piece of journalism.

    • If you take this single interview in isolation, you might be right. But if you look at it in the proper context—the mysterious and inexistent “Swiss-Arab” investors, the erratic new management behavior at Caterham caught red-handed in lie after lie to the public and to the employees, the relentless stripping of Caterham assets, the shameless selling of drives to the highest bidder, the obvious lack of funding for the team operations which at one point were literally not fed, while at the same time the continuing funding of next year’s R&D, the appointing of seriously unqualified (Romanian) personnel in directorships (with Cojocar and Kolles Sr under the spotlight), or the *miraculous* elevation of a financially-strapped janitor to shareowner of an F1 entity—, THEN this specific interview fits in neatly, and weirdly makes a whole lot of sense.

      The previous interview with Cojocar was mostly as erratic as this one with Kolles Sr, and Cojocar wasn’t waving the “I’m very sick and under meds” flag….

  2. Great work landroni and well considered comments too. Nice to see your name in lights! Can’t wait to see what you’ve got coming next.

    I think it interesting as in many ways this is a microcosm of the larger problems F1 faces, particularly in a world where they are under much greater scrutiny (thanks Internetz) than ever before. From the toad down to they guy who drives the lorries, they are under a virtual panopticon in which they can no longer make different statements in different markets and get away with no one noticing.

    • Thank you, Matt!

      “they are under a virtual panopticon in which they can no longer make different statements in different markets and get away with no one noticing”

      So, indeed. I think that this is exactly what bit both Kolles, and Ecclestone. Their manipulations rely to a degree on acquiescent media, writing down exactly what they’re told to (welcome the nice professionals from Autsport, guilty of publishing sycophantic pieces for each of them in the past month). And that’s where TJ13 comes in shining, trying to keep its feet on the ground (and actually talking to affected stakeholders!), instead of just writing grandiose pomposities like “Kolles: F1’s tail-end troubleshooter” or “I have to say, Bernie, that F1 needs you in control” that are simply devoid of any meaning….

  3. Hello to everyone,

    My name is Costin Stucan and I’m the author of those two interviews. I decided to write here after I saw a comment questioning the rightness of doing an interview with Kolles senior.

    Kolles senior was eager to talk even about his favourite TV showman in Romania so I think there is no wrongdoing in it. Since then we spoke a few more times and he’s a nice guy with a lot of knowledge about Caterham and Forza Rossa. In fact, he knows everything about his son plan.

    I’m asking you to be patient and wait a little bit. Soon you’ll get more answers about Caterham and its destination.

    Cheers,
    Costin Stucan

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