Can A1GP’s Team Great Britain make up for its poor start to the season, caused by the lack of a working car until the eve of the second race, and get itself into the title hunt?
Its personnel certainly hope so – and say they will will be aiming to make “an instant impact” in Chengdu, China at the weekend as they compete in their first races of this year’s competition.
A statement from Team GBR in the run-in to the event says that, after missing the first weekend at Zandvoort, everyone is determined for a strong points haul in China to get their championship campaign well and truly under way.
Driver Danny Watts, picked for his prior experience testing the A1GP car, is set to lead the charge. Team GBR is hoping that he will help counter the complete lack of any testing time ahead of Chengdu.
This is down to widely-reported delays in the series’ build schedule – and, in Team GBR’s own words, it has left them “somewhat on the back foot compared to the teams that have tested at the official test days and raced in the season opener at Zandvoort.”
But team principal Katie Clements explained that her squad is more determined than ever to get their season off to a flying start: “It is crucial for us to get some good points on the board this weekend.
“I am sure with Danny and the team’s experience and talent we will be able to achieve that aim.
“Chengdu is a new challenge for everyone but I am sure that we will be able to get up to speed quickly, despite missing out on Zandvoort.
“I am delighted to finally be back in action and I look forward to an exciting weekend.”
James Winslow will also attend the event as GBR’s reserve driver. However, Watts is still technically eligible to take part in the rookie practice sessions and intends to do everything possible to maximise his track time.
He said: “We will be playing catch-up this weekend after missing out on Zandvoort and official test sessions.
“Compared to last year the whole package is a big step up in terms of aerodynamics, braking, power and balance — it’s a proper thoroughbred racing car. It has much better downforce and the new carbon brakes are hugely impressive, you can brake so late now.
“I haven’t driven at Chengdu before but I have done as much homework as I can and as soon as I get there I’ll be doing track walks with the engineer and talking to James Winslow, who has raced there before.”
He said the hard work would start in practice, with the need to get on top of the new car quickly and find a good set-up: “Everyone in the team is quality and I’m sure we will get it dialled in quickly.”
Chengdu is a new venue for A1GP’s fourth season. It will take place on a 3.7km clockwise track featuring 13 turns that has previously played host to the Asian Touring Car Championship and Formula V6 Asia.
The wide track, with its long front straight, is slated to provide plenty of overtaking opportunities.
Saturday’s qualifying starts at 1415 local time (0615 GMT) with Sunday’s 25-minute sprint race starting at 1100 local time (0300 GMT) and the 70-minute feature race beginning at 1500 local time (0700 GMT).
UK viewers will be able to catch the action on terrestrial TV – Five will broadcast a highlights programme at 0420 on Sunday November 16.