JANUARY 4, 2005
A1 Grand Prix continues to build up
Formula 1 cruises merrily on with both Bernie Ecclestone and the GPWC trying to convince the Formula 1 teams that they want to support one or the other. At the same time the planned A1 Grand Prix Championship is building up and we hear that the series will soon be ready announce an impressive calendar which will include 14 venues. The dates are expected to be between September 2005 and April 2006 and will be much more international than originally suggested. Our sources say that the first race will be taking place at Brands Hatch in England and then the series will head gradually to the warmer climates as the weather changes in Europe with stops in Estoril, Portugal, and Istanbul, Turkey. As the autumn continues the racing will move to Korea, Malaysia and Australia and there appear to be plans for a race on New Year's Day in Durban, South Africa. This will be followed by races in Brazil and Mexico and in February the series will have reached the United States, where there seem to be plans for a race on each coast, presumably one being in southern California and the other being in Florida before the series finishes off with a trio of events in Dubai, China and Japan.
To coordinate this A1 Grand Prix is expected to have a facility at Stansted Airport in England and fly the cars in and out of there with a fleet of chartered Boeing 747s. To cope with the logistics the organisation in London has recently been expanded with former F1 team boss John Wickham moving up to the role of global operations manager.
The series recently increased its order of chassis and engines from 30 to 50. At the moment there are 13 countries which have signed up to be part of the series and negotiations of one sort or another are going on with another 19. This means that the field could consist of as many as 32 cars and it seems that some of the countries may run two cars in qualifying and then decide which drivers should race.
Formula 1 may argue that a formula which uses customer chassis and engines can never be a threat to its supremacy but the point is really whether or not A1 Grand Prix can get the TV coverage.
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