SEPTEMBER 12, 2007
Bernie's new friend
The Italian Grand Prix was a busy affair with a lot happening in the Formula 1 paddock. One man who slipped under the radar was Tony Teixeira, who was to be seen walking the grid with Mr E on Sunday. Teixeira is best known in motor racing circles for being one of the founders of the A1GP Series. He is still involved but has sold a large chunk of the business to the RAB Capital hedge fund for a considerable sum of money. Teixeira is now talking about buying a Formula 1 team and Bernie is only too keen to have in the business. A1GP is not much of a threat in the overall scheme of things but it is nonetheless competition of sorts in some of F1's newer markets. Getting Teixeira into F1 will give him less incentive to work on A1GP - and perhaps convince him that the concept is flawed, as many in F1 believe. Teixeira is a very wealthy man having made his money in the rough and tumble world of natural resources in Africa, where his name is known across the continent. The word is that Teixeira was hoping to buy his way into Spyker F1 but was beaten to it by Vijay Mallya and so he is now looking at Prodrive and at Super Aguri F1, both of which are looking for backers.
Having Teixeira onboard may also help Formula 1 to find a way into the African market. He comes from South Africa (although he is Portuguese by descent) and it may be that having a South African-owned team would make life easier with a race in either Cape Town or Durban. A1GP has used a street track in Durban and held its first race there in January 2006. The tight twisting circuit is two miles in length and runs along Snell Parade, next to the sea, before ducking and weaving through the downtown area before returning by way of the Suncoast Casino to Snell Parade. A1GP erected grandstands which had a capacity of 22,000 and sold an additional 80,000 tickets.
That is just the sort of event that Mr E is currently looking for.
A1 GP is coming to the end of its initial three-year franchise period and it will be interesting to see how many teams agree to re-enter the series.