The final round of the A1 Grand Prix series this weekend is in danger of being something of a damp squib. With the top two championship positions settled and most other racing series entering the new season, many teams are without their long-term drivers.
Britain’s Robbie Kerr is busy preparing for the new World Series by Renault season and will miss an A1 race for the first time. Darren Manning (pictured), who has never driven an A1 car or at the Shanghai International Circuit, will take his place. Ralph Firman of team Ireland is driving for ARTA Honda NSX (owned Super Aguris’ Aguri Suzuki) in the Japanese Super GT series – Michael Devaney will get his first A1 race in Firman’s place.
Like Kerr and Firman, Alvaro Parente of Portugal has started every A1 race to date. And like Firman, Parente is also preparing for the first round of the World Series by Renault, so compatriot Cesar Campanico will race for Portugal instead.
The A1 chassis has proved extremely difficult for drivers to learn in the limited time available in a race weekend – even for experienced old hands. With that in mind, champions France’s ability to run both their drivers – Nicolas Lapierre and Alexandre Premat – in the final double-header is a huge advantage. Who would be against them scoring their 14th and 15th wins in China?