In 2023, nine Formula 1 drivers have something in common, that they came through the junior single-seater powerhouse Prema Racing.
The team will have over 20 drivers competing for it in 2023 with undoubtedly a future F1 champion somewhere in its ranks. It’s also expanded beyond the junior sphere into the World Endurance Championship and with engineering expertise for hire.
Prema is a by-word for success in motorsport, but despite its seemingly enormous stature and reputation, the team has grown from just a few employees in 1983 to a sprawling juggernaut.
It’s trusted by many of F1’s top teams to field its star juniors and has relationships that reach all over the world, with drivers like Jacques Villeneuve, Charles Leclerc and Mick Schumacher rising through its ranks.
Prema is also one of the truly family-run operations in racing, and at its heart is team principal Rene Rosin.
He sat down with Podium Life for this exclusive Q&A about the family routes of the team, his heroes, best advice, the future of motorsport and even if we’ll see Prema on the F1 grid one day.
Who are some of your mentors?
Rene Rosin: The real mentor I’m always trying to follow and take inspiration from is for sure my father, Angelo.
What he has done, starting from zero, building up a team that in the beginning, in 1983 was made of only three people, is something to be proud of, thinking that now we have more than 100 people working in PREMA.
Of course, we got a big increase in the last few years, but still, what my father has done and the reputation he has established for the team must be kept as an example.
He has always been working with young drivers. Not only trying to achieve the maximum results in terms of performance, because in the team there are different levels of experience, but to get the best out of every young driver to let them learn, improve and become real professionals.
Biggest lesson learned in motorsport?
RR: For sure, never give up.
Even in the toughest moment, sit down, reflect on the mistakes made, and continue improving.
You can never rely only on the results of the past years, even if you are dominating because the competition is always going to become stronger and try to catch up compared to the past. You always need to look at the future.
Best piece of advice you’ve received?
Actually, it’s the same. Never give up. Especially in motorsports, you can have one or two races that are not good, but if you continue to push and work motivated to get the maximum out of what you have, you can bounce back to good results.
On the other end, the results are not the only important thing. The atmosphere within the team, the well being and the collaboration between the drivers have always been key at PREMA. There are other teams that are winning and have done a good job, but I think that this kind of atmosphere has made a difference.
Drivers can rely on us, work with us and be sure that we are going to do the best job for them.
Who do you look up to?
RR: Of course, I always look up to my father, but if I have to pick a person that taught me a lot and that I looked up to is Davide De Gobbi, who is now the Managing Director of Top Speed and organiser of Formula 4 and Formula Regional in the Middle East.
In the late 90’s and early 2000’s I was always following him and I really learned a lot as I grew up and made my way into this sport.
What does the future of racing look like to you?
Motorsport is in continuous evolution and is probably the world’s most dynamic environment so it’s difficult to have a clear picture of the future.
For sure it will be extremely competitive, and every single aspect will be increasingly optimised to gain a competitive edge. There will be new challenges to take on, and the know-how and technologies to approach those challenges will need to be mastered.
In addition, while single-seaters in Europe are quite well structured now, motorsport in other locations and markets are heading towards the same high standards. I expect to see it growing up globally and become more and more professional and organised.
What’s Prema’s best achievement so far?
RR: Every championship won has its own story and is memorable in its own way.
If I’d have to pick a moment, it would be 2011, when we won the Macau Grand Prix. Up to 2010, we were struggling a bit in terms of results, even if we had got some good ones with Daniel Juncadella.
But in 2011, winning the championship back in International Formula 3 after a few years, and winning Macau, which is a dream for all teams, is one of the most remarkable moments.
Then, all the championships we won in a row in Formula 3 are definitely making us proud. In more recent times, when we arrived in GP2 in 2016 and finished 1-2 with Pierre Gasly and Antonio Giovinazzi, winning the Teams’ Championship, and when we continued winning in Formula 2 with Charles Leclerc.
All the championship winners, for example, Mick Schumacher and Oscar Piastri in Formula 2, Robert Shwartzman in Formula 3, have their own character, their own story, and the moments we are all part of.
What we have done in Formula 4 this year has been incredible as well, as we were able to lock out multiple times the podium in UAE, Italy and Germany, it has been amazing.
What do you see in Prema’s future, would you ever want to branch out into F1 or prefer that Prema stays in the series it is in already?
RR: For sure, all the teams are dreaming to go to Formula 1 one day. All the engineers, all the team members, and even myself as a Team Principal.
However, we must remember that if you go to Formula 1, you need to have the right background and financial base which at the present moment is out of our reach.
You cannot be performing unless you do a strong restructuring process.
All the teams are aiming to do it but what we are currently doing with the new endurance project is quite demanding and I want to continue putting our best effort into everything we do. We want to continue winning and not rely on past results. I want to show what we are really capable of as a group of people.
Prema has always been a family-run team. What advantages and disadvantages does that give you?
RR: To this day, PREMA is still a family-run team. On one hand, it’s an advantage because we all know each other and we understand each other in a blink of an eye.
On the other hand, sometimes it’s limiting, especially when the team size is getting larger and larger. You cannot do everything yourself, you need to delegate and that’s one of the biggest steps we are facing in the last few years.
With multiple championships, we cannot be present all the time in all the categories. We need to establish an organisation that is capable to run autonomously.
We need to keep the PREMA family-oriented mentality while providing more structure.
Podium Life will regularly interview some of motorsport’s biggest names throughout the season for their insights on leadership. Let us know who you’d like us to speak to next!