Gabriele Tarquini and Giancarlo Bruno represent one of the most experienced Driver / Race Engineer partnerships in the FIA World Touring Car Championship – and when they arrive in Monza (October 6-7) for the penultimate race meeting of the season, the SEAT Sport team-mates will be focused on winning – just as much as they were when they first met 17 years ago. Born in Giulianova, Teramo, Gabriele is a former European and British Touring Car Champion.
He participated in 78 Formula 1 Grands Prix (1987-1992) with five teams (Osella, Coloni, AGS, Fondmetal and Tyrrell), finishing a career-best points-scoring 6th at the 1989 Mexican GP (AGS). It was in the Formula 1 paddock where Gabriele and Giancarlo first met in 1990.
After working part-time in various single-seater formulas, Giancarlo, who is originally from Salerno in the south of Italy and now lives in Milan, left full time employment at Alfa Romeo to be become a professional race engineer.
He and Gabriele worked for rival Formula 1 teams (Gabriele at AGS and Giancarlo at BMS Scuderia Italia), and it was six years later that they finally worked together at Alfa Romeo, when they contested the 1996 Intercontinental Touring Car Championship.
They have been working together virtually ever since, racing in the DTM, ITC the BTCC. They joined SEAT Sport last year, with Gabriele finishing 5th in the WTCC and winning one race in Turkey in his SEAT León. The successful partnership continues in 2007, when Gabriele scored SEAT Sport’s first victory of the current season, winning at Zandvoort in the Netherlands.
Here, we ask Gabriele and Giancarlo to talk about their relationship with each other and delve into a world of closely guarded secrets, strategies and how they motivate and encourage each other on a personal level.
Gabriele Tarquini on Giancarlo Bruno
“It is important to have a good relationship with your race engineer, because the trust you have in him is the key to success in the track. You can work with a new engineer and get a good feeling after one or two races, but for sure if you know very well this person it is better.
You speak a lot to your race engineer and it’s important to speak the same language quite well – we speak in Italian, so we understand quickly and exactly what is happening. “Giancarlo has a lot of experience, so he can judge the circumstances and really help me if I need something. Before the race weekend we talk about the circuit we are going to and the car set-up, the results from the previous year and go through any data that we have, normally by telephone.
From the experience we both have, we can begin to prepare the set-up like this. When he arrive at the circuit, it is normal to change things during the race weekend – but if you arrive with a good set-up, this is an advantage. I feel better working in this way with an experienced race engineer. “There are many instances where our good relationship has helped during a race weekend, but one of the best is in Turkey last year.
The conditions changed completely in a short space of time, because the first race was dry and then it began raining very heavily and the second race was completely wet. In five minutes we had to change the car and adjust it to a very different condition. In this case we changed from a dry set-up to a wet set-up, and even though we hadn’t been on this track in the wet before, we found a very good wet set-up and it worked so well that we won the race. This is where the experience comes in.”
Giancarlo Bruno on Gabriele Tarquini
“Gabriele is always very calm and never nervous. This is because he has unbelievable experience on so many circuits around the world and in every condition, and this helps a lot.
He also has an excellent technical knowledge and he knows exactly what every little change on the car can produce. Sometimes Gabriele takes me in the racing car, just to make me understand what it is like when the car understeers and what it is like when it oversteers – and then when he speaks about that on the radio during a race weekend, I promise you I remember exactly what he means! “It is not so easy when I am in the garage and he is in the car, but now I know exactly what he means and how serious the problem is.
We don’t talk much on the radio, especially during the race, because I don’t want to disturb him, so we only speak when we absolutely need to. This is another reason that it is important to have a good feeling, and when Gabriele speaks I immediately recognise the scale of the problem – and this if more about feeling when you speak to a driver and you know him well. Silly problems annoy him. In qualifying at Oschersleben this year, we had a problem with the radio.
There was nothing mechanically wrong with the car, but there was a communication problem and we were unable to concentrate one hundred percent. Gabriele came into the pits, we fixed the radio and he went out and qualified on pole! At this level, if you concentrate ninety-nine percent it is not enough.”