Scuderia Coloni has been awarded a prestigious 'Golden Helmet' at this year's Autosprint magazine awards ceremony at the weekend.
The 'Golden Helmet' (or 'Casco d'oro') award is the most important motor sport-related prize in Italy and has a history going back over 40 years.
The leading Italian specialist motor racing publication rewarded the Coloni team for their outstanding form in the second half of the GP2 Europe season which saw them storm to the runners-up spot with Luca Filippi ahead of more fancied drivers such as Jules Bianchi, Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde.
"Really there was no better way of ending this 2011," said team owner Paolo Coloni. "Getting such an important award, something that can be considered as an 'Oscar' of Italian motorsport, means getting a reward not only for our amazing results but for the huge effort that the whole team put in the season."
Filippi's late-season charge - which included three wins and one third place finish - was enough to secure him his own special 'Golden Helmet' award, as the single-seater driver who brought most glory to Italy in 2011.
And Coloni's 18-year-old driver Kevin Ceccon - who initially came into the team as an urgent replacement for Davide Rigon who was injured in the first race of the season - was deemed the most interesting young driver in Italy and recognised with his own 'Italian Silver Helmet' award.
"Receiving such an important award makes me incredibly proud and it's great joy," said Ceccon. "This Silver Helmet is a stunning prize, and that's not just because it has a very long tradition, but mainly due to the fact that it's awarded by a jury of expert journalists, people who follow motorsport since decades and that are used to evaluate drivers not only by looking at their results but also with a deeper analysis. That's why this award is incredibly valuable to me, something that will push me to prepare even better for 2012."
"Seeing that our drivers were also awarded prizes, and all this in front of some long-time friends and people who is part of our history in motorsport, made it even more special," added his team boss, Paolo Coloni. The prize-giving ceremony on Saturday was attended by the likes of Italian motor racing stars Ivan Capelli, Dindo Capello, Gianmaria Bruni and Marco Bonanomi.
After standing down mid-season to concentrate on Auto GP, Ceccon returned to the team for the GP2 Final and finished both the feature and sprint races in the points. Paolo Coloni was obviously looking at this experience as part of his planning for the future.
"The tests and the race weekend in Abu Dhabi told us that we are moving in the right direction, but the new bits that have been introduced in the regulations for 2012 are a new challenge that has to be taken very seriously," he said. "It's something that gives us a further boost to keep the same performance level in 2012, and we're already working on that at our workshop, especially on the simulation side."
He added: "There's still a lot of work to do."
Among the other prizes given by Autosprint, Audi was awarded its own special 'Golden Helmet' in recognition of its tenth Le Mans victory in June. The award was accepted on Audi's behalf by factory driver Dindo Capello, who had been with the marque for 18 years.