The company that runs A1GP’s Team GBR has gone into administration, forcing the series to put together a makeshift squad to run the car at Portimao last weekend.
A1GP series boss Tony Teixeira has promised to keep the team running for as long as his series exists – but the financial crisis explains a number of odd events that kept fans puzzled during the Portuguese round of the championship.
Pre-race publicity lacked the usual optimistic quotes of team principal Katie Clements. Driver Dan Clarke was observed to be wearing overalls without team branding or colours. And fans were astounded to watch the German pit crew working on the British car on more than one occasion during the race.
One, Luis Rosa, left a comment on this site to say: “I was at the main public stand in Algarve circuit, right in front of the German pit box. I saw the Germans assisting the German car but, to my surprise, and I believe of all the people around me, they also assisted the British car at least twice during the main race.”
Warning bells also rang when the team preview contained the following statement: “The team remains positive and has taken a leaf out of Brawn-Mercedes’ book by already being well into planning for next season in a bid to hit the ground running when the fifth year of A1GP kicks off in October this year.”
According to records filed with Companies House, Christopher Laughton and Steven Leslie Smith, of the London insolvency practice Mercer and Hole, were appointed as administrators to A1GP (UK) Limited on March 26 following an application submitted on March 12.
The next race for the team is in front of the home fans at Brands Hatch on May 3 where it was also due to be hosting a fundraising ball for the charity it supports, Demelza House Children’s Hospice in Kent.
Indications are that the series will do everything possible to ensure a British car races there – and the venue at least has the advantage of low travel costs.
Mr Laughton told the magazine Accountancy Age in late March that the company had cashflow problems and was, at that point, in talks to continue racing: “I’m discussing with the series owner whether the company that has been in charge of Team GBR will continue to do so.
“I want to get the best financial outcome for A1GP (UK) and see what may be possible for Team GBR.”
The official team statement reads as follows: “This business restructure has enabled every member of staff to retain their job and the team is now looking forward to improving its championship position in season four and challenging for the title once again in season five.
“The global economic situation has proved a challenge for A1 Team Great Britain, as it has to countless other companies. After stringent analysis and a change of shareholders, GBR found its current business and financial structure was unsustainable and so has undertaken a restructuring process of those elements to ensure a secure future for the team.”
Teixeira was the man behind the makeshift A1GP team that ran in Portugal, according to a conversation he had with Autosport.
He said: “As long as we have A1GP, Team GBR will run. It’s obviously unfortunate that this has happened, but we have undertaken to run the team for the forseeable future. This is clearly a sign of the times and it’s a shame.”
Tony Clements who, with his daughter Katie, was one of the directors of A1GP (UK) Limited, added: “We were trying to put together a refinancing package when two of my partners pulled out. Now we’re working with an administrator to try to find a solution.”