The A1GP series, which is due to start this September, announced the provisional calendar for their 2005 winter championship this week. It promises to be the most internationally diverse motor sport series, even more so than Formula One.
In all, twelve events are planned for the inaugural championship year, and the list of destinations makes impressive reading. The season will begin in Europe and visit Australia, Asia and America before concluding, as this year’s Formula One season will, in China.
The series will run mainly during the winter months and will provide a welcome dose of motor sport action for F1 fans during the off season. The first round will be held on the Grand Prix circuit at Brands Hatch on September 25th, the same weekend as the Brazilian Grand Prix.
The second rounds coincides with the F1 season finale in Shanghai on October 9th. There will then be two races per month from November to March, except December, in which there will be just a single race.
There will only be one visit to a current Grand Prix circuit, when the series visits the Sepang circuit in Malaysia on November 20th. This is close to the original late-season slot for the Malaysian Grand Prix before it was moved to its current early slot in 2001. It should provide a fascinating chance to compare the speeds of F1 and ‘A1’ cars.
Round three visit ex-F1 venue Estoril in Portugal, albeit now with the opening fast sweeps pinched into tighter corners, which is a shame. Round six visits the excellent Dubai Autodrome in the United Arab Emirates, a modern facility which has produced some very good races. There is the prospect of up to two street races, one in Durban, South Africa and the other in San Antonio, Texas. Formula One held a one-off street race in Texas in the scorching summer in 1984 but, sensibly, A1GP will go in February!
There will also be two visits to current Champ Car venues, giving an opportunity for further comparison with a leading single seater series. The venues are the Mexican Monterrey circuit and California’s Laguna Seca track home of the notorious and celebrated corkscrew corner.
All of which builds onto the intriguing prospect offered by A1GP. Contrary to earlier rumours the season is not going to be exclusively based in far and middle eastern countries, and the scheduling of the races on the calendar should give them better exposure compared to other series.
Best of all, there are some genuinely interesting and unusual circuits on the calendar, something which Formula One is in danger of becoming very short of as more of its circuits start to resembe each other.