A1 Grand Prix (A1GP) is a 'single make' open-wheel auto racing series. It is unique in its field in that competitors represent their nation as opposed to a constructor, the usual format in most formula racing series. As such, it is often promoted as the "World Cup of Motorsport". The series is ratified and regulated by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) and races (collectively known as the "A1GP World Cup of Motorsport") are held in the traditional Formula One off season, the northern hemisphere winter.
The nation-based A1GP concept was founded by Sheikh Maktoum Hasher Maktoum Al Maktoum of Dubai, initially in 2004. Once the series had received the backing of the FIA in 2005, a management structure including new executive directors Brian Menell and Tony Teixeira was appointed to oversee the sale of franchises for the operation of international teams. Paul Cherry, formerly of the Champ Car Racing Team, Sigma Autosport, was later brought in as the General Franchise Manager in 2005. AutosportRacing.com later received articles about Mr Cherry's job at A1 GP, and there were many quotes from many clients who work with A1 saying that they were "confused by what his job actually was". Thirty franchises were made available; twenty-three of them were restricted to specified nations, while the other seven were opened to tender for nations that had not been initially targeted.
|2005-06||Lola||Zytek||Cooper Avon||11||25||58||France (172pts)||Switzerland (121pts)||Great Britain (97pts)|
|2006-07||Lola||Zytek||Cooper Avon||11||24||61||Germany (128pts)||New Zealand (93pts)||Great Britain (92pts)|
|2007-08||Lola||Zytek||Cooper Avon||10||22||46||Switzerland (168pts)||New Zealand (127pts)||Great Britain (126pts)|
In total, twenty-five of the franchises were purchased in time for the 2005-06 A1 Grand Prix season, which began on 25 September 2005 with the A1 Grand Prix of Nations Great Britain at the Brands Hatch circuit in Kent, United Kingdom. The first season was planned for 12 rounds (24 races, with two each weekend); however the cancellation of a race scheduled for Curitiba, Brazil in January 2006 reduced this number to 11. Nelson Angelo Piquet won the inaugural race of the series for A1 Team Brazil. However, their winning form was not to continue. Wins at Estoril and Malaysia saw A1 Team France build up a sizeable gap. By the start of the winter break, France had run away with the lead with A1 Team Switzerland 28 points behind. At the final race of the season in Shanghai, A1 Team France were crowned the first-ever A1 Grand Prix world champions with 172 points. Switzerland were second coming in 121 points and A1 Team Great Britain third with 97 points.
A number of changes were made for the 2006-07 season to race durations and distances to improve the spectacle for attendees and TV viewers. The 2006-07 schedule was released on 7 July 2006, with the first race at Circuit Park Zandvoort on 1 October 2006, and the last race at Brands Hatch on 29 April 2007. New teams A1 Team Singapore and A1 Team Greece have joined the competition but A1 Team Turkey failed to secure funding for this season. A1 Team Austria, A1 Team Japan, A1 Team Portugal and A1 Team Russia did not return for the second season. However after securing funding A1 Team Portugal competed in the final four rounds of the second season in South Africa, Mexico, China and Britain.The season ended at Brands Hatch on 29 April 2007. A1 Team Germany won it with 128 points, 35 points lead ahead Team New Zealand.
On 29 September, Sheikh Maktoum announced he was resigning his position as chairman and chief executive of the series, seeking to have his place taken by increased shareholder interests.
I am happy that I have built the series with fans in mind. I feel like I have fulfilled my promise to them by bringing A1GP from concept to reality and am confident that the World Cup of Motorsport will go from strength to strength. Having devoted all my efforts to making A1GP the success it is today, this transaction will allow me to devote more time to my Dubai International Holding Company which currently manages a substantial portfolio of assets and new ventures and which continues to actively pursue other significant investment opportunities.Maktoum announced his planned resignation in September and his exit from the organisation was confirmed in December.
The 2008/09 season is the first season in which the new "Powered by Ferrari" A1GP car is used. Rule changes include shorter qualifying sessions, a pit-stop during the now longer Sprint Race, removal of limits on Friday test drivers, and reduced Sprint Race points scoring.
Each of the A1 Grand Prix teams represent a nation. Drivers must have the same nationality as the team they drive for. The team car should also represent the country. The team owner, principal and crew, however, do not need to have the same nationality as the team.
Twenty-seven nations have, at least, started one race in A1GP - which are represented in the table below.
| South Africa|| Brazil|
|bold represents an active team in the 2008-09 season|
The A1GP formula provides a single "spec" car for each team. Each car is mechanically identical, built with many technical restrictions designed to limit performance, reduce running costs, and prevent any one or number of teams gaining an advantage through better equipment. This regulation provides a level playing field in which driver skill and team effort becomes the primary factor for success. Ferrari will be designing and manufacturing the cars through to 2014.
Specifically, the cars have an aluminium honeycomb chassis based on the Formula 1 Ferrari F2004 chassis, riding on control slick tires from Michelin. The 4.5-litre Ferrari V8 engine is capable of delivering up to 600 bhp in PowerBoost mode - a mechanism to provide short bursts of increased power to create additional overtaking opportunities and action throughout the race.
A1 Grands Prix of Nations take place over a three-day period, from Friday to Sunday. The teams are given five sets of dry weather slick tires, and two sets of wet weather treaded tires per weekend. However, if the weather is extreme, the team can be given more wet weather tires at the expense of the slick tires. The race weekend starts with two one-hour practice sessions held on the Friday, and then another on the Saturday morning. A two-hour qualifying session takes place on Saturday afternoon, and two races take place on Sunday. Primarily, the three practice sessions are for car setup and track familiarisation before the official competition begins with Saturday qualifying. Three different drivers may participate in the three practice sessions; the driver elected for qualifying or for one of the races must have taken part in at least one such practice session.
At the end of Season 3, A1GP released the results of the season's pit stop times. Although having never won a race, A1 Team Australia, had the fastest pit crew of all teams.
|Only the best 9 race weekends count|
Unlike almost all other forms of auto racing, drivers do not score points individually; instead the points they earn are ascribed to their national team. This means that teams can change drivers between rounds, which is often necessary because some drivers have commitments in other formulae, and still accumulate points to their score.
Points are awarded for the first ten places but the amounts have changed: 15 for the winner, 12 for second place, 10 for third place, 8 for fourth place, 6 for fifth place, 5 for sixth place, and so on with 4, 3, 2, and one point for tenth place. Points are awarded in a different way for the Sprint Race: 10 for the winner, counting down 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 point for eighth place. In addition, one point is awarded to the team that sets the fastest single lap time in either the Sprint or Main Race. Cash prizes are also awarded.
Chairman Tony Teixeira has announced that Italian manufacturer Ferrari will design and build the engines for the 2008-09 season. They will also be involved in the design of the new chassis for both, however it will not be built by them. A six-year agreement was confirmed by A1GP itself although Ferrari has not commented in any official capacity. The supposed partnership with Ferrari extends to an exclusive licensing agreement for all A1GP merchandise to use the Ferrari name and phrase ‘Powered by Ferrari’ from 1 January 2008 even though that date passed without A1GP's use of any Ferrari marks on their merchandise.
Announcing the Ferrari involvement is intended to ease some of the concerns regarding A1GP's ongoing financial viability and the continued input of existing backers. Teixeira reported a USD 212 million loss for the initial season, with A1GP officials announcing a debt financing initiative and an initial public offering backed by the Nomura Group and RAB Capital hoping to finance both the initial debt and the 2005-06 season loss.
|Country / Region||Network||Language||Period|
Gillette World Sport
|Asia||ESPN Star Sports||English||2007-08 onwards|
|Česká televize||Czech||Before 2008-09|
2005-06 to 2007-08
ERT (Greece only, Highlights only)
|Hálózat TV||Hungarian||Before 2008-09|
|Rai Sport Più|
|Latin and Central America||Speed Latin America||Spanish||2007-08 onwards|
|Televisa Sports||Spanish||2007-08 onwards|
|Middle East||Al Jazeera||Arabic||Before 2008-09|
|RTR Sport (Highlights only)||2008-09|
|Poverkhnost TV||Ukrainian||2007-08 onwards|
Five (highlights only)
|English||2005-06 to 2010-11|
America One (Post-season replays)