30 years old. 48 triumphs. The youngest driver in the world to race in a Ferrari car. Head of Kessel Racing Team. Ronnie Kessel simply keeps making history in the GT category and we at Paddock magazine are happy to meet him.
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A successful team founded by Loris Kessel in 2000, whose death in 2010 left the company in the best hands possible – his son Ronnie Kessel is responsible for the enormous success the outfit is experiencing.
The Swiss team closes its season getting three podiums. It’s the third consecutive year the Kessel cars shine under the Yas Marina Circuit lights. This team has even won the competition in the past with a motorcycle driver Jorge Lorenzo. The overall success is based on hard work and experience, Ronnie Kessel confesses to us.
The team has already set its goals for 2018. However, and despite all the victories in GT, Formula 1 is not among Ronnie’s plans, at least not for the moment. But he leaves the door open for a category in which his dad made his own contribution by taking part in six Grand Prix races back in the 1970s.
Those were the iconic years of Formula 1, Ronnie believes. “A different era that has nothing to do with the current one: a competition based on strict rules that undermine the show, making it so predictable and leaving no room for surprise. You don’t go to the circus if you can’t see a show,” he smiles. He’s sure that the old and famously vibrant Formula 1 racing will only be possible if the competition overcomes the challenge of finding a balance between safety and action on the track.
A priori, GT and Formula 1 have little in common, and the race pace marks probably the biggest difference. Nevertheless, we find many similarities when it comes to getting a seat. Ronnie is pretty aware that “kids don’t grow up dreaming of becoming GT drivers, they want to be Formula 1 racers.”. And when the path gets tough they may find a chance in the GT competition – a category less expensive than Formula 1 but equally or even more demanding. The economic factor might explain the driver profile we stumble upon: someone older than 30, with racing experience and whose financial situation allows him to race now and then.
Kids don’t grow up dreaming of becoming GT drivers, they want to be Formula 1 racers.
Ronnie Kessel knew he was made for GT, despite the fact that many drivers consider GT only when the option of getting into Formula 1 fails. However, there are exceptions and Hartley Brantley knows that. His arrival to the Big Circus is due to his success in the Endurance categories. A really demanding and challenging one, and as the Swiss states, a prototype such as the LMP1 is more difficult to drive, stronger and way more demanding than a single-seater.
Ronnie has no problem in managing a team with a glorious record book despite the fact that his employees are often older than him. Before becoming a Team Principal, he was a driver, and that leaves him in a position in which not only could he understand the drivers but also perfectly manage a diverse team of motorsport professionals.
The year has just started and Kessel-Ferrari prepares itself for a promising year in which they aim to increase their records in the endurance championship focusing on the Blancpain GT Series and the Michelin Le Mans Cup. 2018 is the time to keep continuing the great work, maybe even with an official Ferrari driver behind the wheel.