‘Welcome to the World of Motortainment’
The new A1 Grand Prix series is set to commence in autumn next year. As the latest edition to the motorsports calendar it is not being viewed as competition to F1 and has managed to position itself in a different sector of single seater racing. Known as the World Cup of Motorsport, A1 differs from the current F1, in that the contenders will represent their home countries and all cars will have the exact same specifications having been built by the same manufacturer. The sport will use 3.4-litre V8 engines, mounted on a Lola chassis and fitted with Cooper tyres.
Founded by Sheikh Maktoum, a member of the ruling family of Dubai, and businessmen Brian Menell and Antonio Teixeira, the FIA sanctioned series will run in motor racing’s traditional ‘off’ season. It is described by the organisers as being unique in the fact that it brings together a sustainable business model with the high speed excitement of motorsport.
Amongst the countries that have secured their place so far are the UK, South Africa, China, Portugal, Pakistan, Lebanon, Australia, Canada and Malaysia. The participants represent more than 80 per cent of the world’s population. And Dubai, Bahrain, Qatar, China, South Africa, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan and Australia have already been selected to host the first A1 Grand Prix season, and there is still the possibility of a further two events.
There has been much emphasis put on the fact that the sport will provide a patriotic atmosphere between contenders and their supporters, with chairman of the South African team, Tokyo Sexwale, commenting: “ It will create a new patriotic edge to the sport, and add a new dimension to one of the most popular sports in the world. We are proud and pleased that there will be a South African entrant in this exciting global event. We fully subscribe to the need to spread motor racing away from its traditional European and North American roots and into the developing world. Welcome to the world of Motortainment.”
One of the essential elements of the A1 GP is that it needs to be thrilling to watch. The belief that it will be a compelling spectacle for all motorsport fans was strongly endorsed when Sky Sports bought the broadcasting rights for live coverage in the UK, of not only the races, but also the practice and qualifying sessions. Sky Sports managing director Vic Wakeling said: “We have been sold on the concept of a genuine test of driving skills and it has the added attraction of providing us with more international sport throughout the winter months.”