RJ: Paolo, you’ve been out of racing for a while..
PB: Yeah, I retired, I gave up racing. I decided to go, not wait to be pushed out. I was happy, I had enough.
RJ: The big thing for you has obviously been the family pasta organisation. Was there family pressure to leave the sport or did you want a life away from Formula 1? Why have you returned to the tracks lately as a visitor?
PB: I felt a failure, you know? When I stopped Formula 1 .. I had two options… to keep going racing cars, because I still felt I could be competitive somewhere or to try something else.. to start something else and be close to something. I was 30 then and decided, yes, to have a change of scenery. Then, after quitting racing, the only thing I really wanted to do was work with my brothers. So, I decided to leave motor racing and anyway, it’s far better now, for me, to meet up with everybody this way, but no, it was just time for me to.. to do something else. I needed about 4 or 5 years to have some understanding of other things, because I didn’t really know anything about running a business, and then about 5-6 years after I left motor racing, I felt comfortable in work, and then I received a few offers – I’m a very good friend of Piero (Pier Luigi Martini) and his family and I always like meet him and also visit other friends.. and so.. it was a tough decision but really, I had other issues to take care of at that time.
RJ: Obviously you won Le Mans. Did you ever feel like continuing in sportscars?
PB: Personally, sportscars for me was better than anything else. I was more competitive in racing, I was not a “crazy” driver, not making mistakes, despite the distances, It was easy to keep more concentration, so yes, it was better. There was also a good relationship, a good balance with the team, it’s always better if you are strong with the team, then a team being much stronger than you, and I liked that type of driving. I did want to try it again, but then I learnt, it was probably not the best option back then (after F1).
RJ: Finally, does this kind of thing (GPM) interest you, would you like to drive in this if the opportunity came about?
PB: No.. well.. racing cars and racing a car still excites me, because I had the pleasure of driving and yes, I do still miss the driving, I miss a lot. But then, no, I’ve never really thought seriously to come back, to do something like this. Now, I prefer to watch, but I’m still excited about the concept.
Interview conducted by Richard Jenkins on the 13th August 2006 at the GPM event at Silverstone. Thanks to Paolo and his family for their time, and again, thanks to Paolo for his excellent English.