A1 Grand Prix?s new generation could be a rival to Formula 1

A1 Grand Prix new 2008 car 1, 470150

When A1 Grand Prix first began in 2005 its organisers played down claims it might be a rival to Formula 1.

With substantially less powerful cars and a roster consisting largely of inexperienced drivers, it wasn?t likely to lure viewers away from motor racing?s top flight.

But signs are that could be about to change this year, as the championship prepares for its fourth season with a new, more powerful, Ferrari-designed, sponsor-friendly car.

The handsome new racer, based on Ferrari?s crushingly dominant F2004 of 2004, sheds the ugliness of its predecessor.

It packs much more of a punch as well. A1?s previous V8 Zytek units did their job and were commendably reliable, but for the championship to attract top-flight talent it clearly needed a more challenging machine.

A1 isn?t just moving closer to F1 in terms of power, it also wants to lure major sponsors to the series as well.

Just a few days after Frank Williams complained advertising space would be reduced by 25% because of the 2009 aerodynamics regulations cutting wing sizes, A1 Grand Prix put out a press release boasting the bodywork on its cars had been enlarged to allow sponsors? logos to be displayed more fully.

F1 specified a minimum size of engine covers a few years ago for commercial reasons. But now teams are extending their engine covers far beyond the where the rules require to act as flow conditioners for the rear wing.

A1GP chief commercial officer Scott Hollingsworth said:

With all the cars being identical we have flexibility to make sure we deliver our promises to both our sponsors and fans. This enlarged engine cover allows a much higher profile position, while delivering the on track performance we demand. We are working hard to make sure our commercial partners get the most out of their association with A1GP.

The image above shows the car as it was originally designed. The picture below shows the revised look of the car.

Max Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone have often been accused of protecting Formula 1 from other championships ?ǣ a charge former A1GP boss Sheikh Maktoum Hasher Maktoum Al Maktoum directed at Mosley. I think it is becoming clear the World Cup of Motorsport sees itself increasingly as a rival to F1.

A1 Grand Prix new 2008 car 2, 470

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33 comments on A1 Grand Prix?s new generation could be a rival to Formula 1

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  1. cyanide said on 15th July 2008, 7:33

    Wow, it looks lovely! I’m not familiar with the rules of A1, but can a country have multiple teams entering the championship? If so, it would be great to see some of the bigger teams participating or atleast collaborating with A1 teams. And since there isn’t a Concorde agreement stopping any of the teams from doing that currently, it should be quite possible if any of the teams desire to do so.

  2. Unfortunately it would mean having to use Ferrari power, which might rule out some teams!

  3. Jean said on 15th July 2008, 8:23

    the one in the top picture looks better

  4. the fact that A1 sees itself as a rival to F1 does not mean it will become one. I think that unless they ditch that ridiculous World Cup of Motorsports label and start attracting top drivers regardless of their nationatilty they will remain pretty much where they are. Ferrari cars alone will not save them …

  5. nellyweb said on 15th July 2008, 9:30

    I love that the car is being built in my home town of Bognor Regis…

  6. A Singh said on 15th July 2008, 11:16

    I doubt it could ever be a rival to formula one, in that people tune in to F1 to see rival manufacturers, who built their own cars, battling it out, in the pinnacle of engineering.

    Although, when the F1 isn’t on, I do admit I like the head-to-head nature of A1.

    Another thing that counts against A1 is that it isn’t grand prix racing – the sprint and feature race format is no match for a 2 hour race.

  7. daniel said on 15th July 2008, 11:33

    um does anyone know what engine it runs, as in how many litres, hp, tourqe, ect.

    and how does it compare to the ferrari F1 V8

    this will be intresting if the A1GP car is faster then next years F1’s with these new regs put in

  8. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 15th July 2008, 11:47

    It’s a 600bhp V8, so not as powerful as F1, but closer than the last car which had slightly more than 500bhp.

  9. daniel said on 15th July 2008, 13:33

    so how many litre is it?

    is it a 2.4 or 3.0 or something around there?

    watched a vid of it on youtube and it sounded somewhat like a champcar engine, alot less tourqe then a F1 engine

  10. Sush said on 15th July 2008, 14:37

    hold on a minute, the F2004 with a V8?

    BLASPHEMY.

  11. Dan M said on 15th July 2008, 15:12

    I don’t think Ferrari would want these cars taking away from F1, it would hurt them more then help them…. I would be great so see a V10 with slicks again though. Too bad.

  12. One car per country, Cyanide. A1 remains a road to hell paved with a great intention. If A1 were successful, they would attract drivers from all forms of motor racing during the off season, including, if not especially, F1, and we’d see all the Germans fighting each other for a chance to drive Germany’s car, as an example. Success for A1 would be that we think of it in the same sense as the international community thinks of the World Cup with respect to international professional football. Is the World Cup bigger? Yes, but it exists alongside football, it doesn’t overcome it or cancel it out.

    My pet peeve about A1 remains that television coverage puts so much emphasis on country that you never get to know the people they are talking about; they say “Switzerland are dominating,” not “Neel Jani leads again.”

    I think the motors are 2.4’s, they are restricted (intake airflow) and sealed (no engineering allowed), with a push-to-pass button. In the long race, pitstops are compulsory, must be taken within a window, four tires must be changed, and pit crews must wait behind the wall for the car to come to a complete stop in the stall before approaching the car. There is no refuelling, though they’ve never had a car run out of fuel, as far as I know. Rolling starts in the short race, standing starts in the long one, both races per event count for the same amount of points. Points are earned by the countries (teams), not the drivers.

  13. Uppili said on 15th July 2008, 17:18

    Keith,

    I really don’t think that A1 is really a competition to F1. The organizers might like to think so wishfully but A1 will never rival F1. A1 at best can only compliment F1 during its off season days. Agreed that the involvement of Ferrari has raised A1’s profile and interest and perhaps now its getting on the level of GP2. But the very fact that they have to rely on a 5 year old F1 car to raise their profile shows where they are in relation to F1.

    Every series in the world (IRL, A1, ex champ car, etc) that does not openly admit that its a ladder series to F1 like F3, WSR, GP2 and million other junior formulaes, like to believe that they are competition to F1. But they are not. An average of 500 people per team working to put two cars on the gird with multi million dollar budgets can never be rivaled by series with 10 people (whom i have full respect for)working on a car with a budget that wont buy tyres for a F1 team for a full season.

    Its really a complex scenario. Part of the problem is that not all F1 fans are open wheel fans in general who will readily embrace alternate concept immediately. There are people who like the glitz and glamor of F1 and for them racing is a bonus, something the other series seemingly cant deliver. There is other group of people who are open wheel racing for whom racing is primary and the glitz, glamor and technology of F1 is an added incentive. People of the latter category might embrace an alternate. But I would say that this divide in F1 audience is at least half and half, which makes it really tough for other series. Mya be if they get/allow multiple chassis and engine manufacturers (Like CART in its hay days) then they can be a serious threat to F1. But then, costs will go out of control and unfortunately they will end up mimicking F1 and cant produce anything different than what F1 already offers.

    Having said all this, credit where its due. A1 pulled a master stroke by having their racing in the traditional off season. If it was in the usual racing season, everyone would have dismissed it as yet another junior formula wannabe series, no matter how much money they sunk in or PR spin they would have tried to put. It is only because of this, that even i think A1 complements F1 and not a outright feeder series to F1. Unfortunately for them, Bernie has realized what a master stroke it is and that is the reason he created GP2 Asia series (which by the way shows what Bernie thinks of A1 regarding its ability to compete against F1) to make their life harder. Throw in the mix the new superleague formula which has a ridiculous concept but terrific car with a 750hp singing V12 engine, it becomes really complex.

    I believe that the Superleague formula not withstanding its lousy concept can still rival A1 and perhaps fill the void the demise of Champcar has created for open wheel road racing fans with their good car and engine formula, provided their investors are willing to sink in the same amount of money as A1 did in its formative years. Only time will tell if the they have such resources and patience.

  14. George said on 15th July 2008, 17:57

    It hardly registers a blip on the radar. The drivers are second-rate at best, in the main. The cars are not a patch on an F1 show. I don’t think that racing fans are, in general, overtly or overly nationalistic (excepting, maybe, the tifosi) – they tend to like drivers as personalities and teams for their particular characters and histories, rather than for any reasons of national loyalty. For me, the whole concept of ‘national’ racing teams is rather jingoistic – I much prefer the more cosmopolitan nature of mainstream motorsport.

  15. spectre said on 15th July 2008, 19:28

    I have never seen anything of A1 GP here in Sweden. It’s not even on the radar. I they want to become a World Cup, they could start by trying to hook up TV channels all over the world that actually want to show it.

    Anybody seen some races? How are they compared to F1? More overtaking?

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