A1GP: Trouble-hit series faces fresh blow

By Andy Darley

CalendarFriday, September 26th, 2008

 
 

A1GP will open its fourth season without a full line-up of teams on the grid as delays in production of its new Ferrari-powered car bite deeper.

The series, a World Cup of motor sport with national teams running identical machinery, had already been forced to cancel its launch race in Italy and radically restructure its testing because of problems with the supply of cars.

While some teams were able to test at Donington Park earlier this month, demonstrating the potential of the new machine, others had only just received their car.

Now it seems that some of these will not be able to prepare their cars in time for the first races, to be held at Zandvoort in the Netherlands on October 5th.

A1GP chief executive Pete da Silva said: “The situation we find ourselves in is unfortunate. We have a small number of teams who will not be in Zandvoort. While these teams are obviously very disappointed, they understand we have done everything possible but just ran out of time.

“I am aware of how hard our teams have been working, and are continuing to do that day and night. The fact some won’t make the grid next week will not be for lack of trying.”

A1GP chose to abandon its Lola/Zytek package at the end of last season in favour of a new design powered by Ferrari and based on the Italian company’s F1 cars but produced in-house.

Testing has been broadly successful, with drivers generally impressed by the step forward from the previous car in performance and power. However, tester Patrick Friesacher suffered a spinal injury when one failed and crashed, and the actual production of the cars has been slow.

A1GP’s technical and operations director John Wickham told Autosport the delay was down to “parts coming through late, particularly electrical systems”.

In August, when the series announced it would not be able to hold its planned season opener at Ferrari’s Mugello circuit, da Silva said: “It was always going to be an optimistic programme but we were confident we could achieve it.”

It is not yet known which teams will fail to make Zandvoort – with a test for about a dozen cars planned at Snetterton three days before the race it’s quite likely many will find themselves working up to the wire in an attempt to compete.

It’s a scenario already familiar this season from the new Superleague Formula series, where teams still coming to terms with their newly-built cars have found themselves stranded in the pits or even on the grid with mechanical problems.

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