As the thrilling third season of A1GP draws to a close, the title battle is wide open and the competition is tighter than ever, with eight teams still mathematically in contention for the honours, as the World Cup of Motorsport returns to China for the penultimate round in Shanghai next weekend (11-13 April).
With 64 points still up for grabs at the final two rounds, eight of the 22 competing nations, including A1 Team Ireland, who secured its first ever A1GP victory when Adam Carroll won the Mexico City Feature race last month, are still mathematically in with a chance of winning the prestigious championship.
New Zealand’s Jonny Reid took his third Sprint race victory of the season in Mexico, moving the Kiwis up to second place in the championship, 15 points behind Switzerland. Reid, who holds the lap record around the 4.6 km circuit, has previously performed well at Shanghai, storming to a commanding victory in the Feature race last year. Current title leader Switzerland arrives in China on 128 points ahead of New Zealand on 113 and season one champion France, who failed to pick up any points in Mexico, on 108.
Switzerland’s Neel Jani has never raced at the Shanghai Circuit before but in theory his nation could leave China as series champion, if it increases its title lead to at least 33 points.
Great Britain’s Robbie Kerr returns to the scene of his maiden A1GP victory, having won the Shanghai Sprint race last year, and will be aiming for a repeat performance ahead of his nation’s home event, the A1GP season finale at Brands Hatch in four weeks time. Duncan Tappy, who joined the team in Mexico, returns to perform GBR rookie duties and support Kerr throughout the weekend. GBR made great strides towards third position in the championship standings, its final classification at the end of both season one and two, after achieving an impressive double-podium finish in Mexico last month with Oliver Jarvis at the wheel.
Ferrari Festival: This weekend’s Shanghai event offers a glimpse into the future of the series, with a special partnership that could prove to be the first of many. As work continues behind the scenes to design and manufacture the new A1GP car for the 2008/09 season in consultation with Ferrari, A1GP is proud to welcome the Ferrari Festival to Shanghai.
A1GP has visited the ultra-modern Shanghai International Circuit for the past two seasons and it has provided four different winners. Malaysia, Czech Republic, Great Britain and New Zealand have all tasted victory at the facility, which continues to receive plaudits as one of the most well-built and modern race tracks in the world.
An alternative, 4.6 km version will be used, as in 2006/07, which misses out three corners and adds a chicane, bunching the field up for a longer period of time throughout the circuit and creating even more exciting, closer racing.
The 1 km straight at the end of the lap also provides an opportunity for frequent overtaking manoeuvres, but it is the first corner that has provided the most spectacular passes. Czech Republic’s Tomas Enge and New Zealand’s Jonny Reid both took their victories thanks to superb manoeuvres at this constantly tightening corner.
Pre-event PR activity: The PR activity for the Shanghai race weekend will take place on Thursday (10 April) morning at the Shanghai International Circuit. A short press conference with A1GP, A1 Team China, SIC and FASC representatives will be held in the press conference room, followed by a Sports Challenge in the paddock involving three traditional Chinese sports: shuttlecock kicking, Chinese yo-yo (similar to diabolo) and rope skipping. The drivers will take part in a training session with Congfu (Franky) Cheng and local sports coaches and students, before competing to score points in each sport. At the end of the event, the overall winner will be presented with an award and this will be followed by a media interview session.
Drivers from the following nations will be taking part in the event: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, France, GBR, India, Ireland, Italy, Lebanon, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Switzerland
Information on copyright free television footage and still images from the events can be found on the media website at www.A1GP.com/press .
About the Shanghai International Circuit: Shanghai International Circuit is one of the most impressive circuits in the world and has set the standard for other international race tracks. Built in 2004, it is also one of the newest. Few believed that it was possible to build such an impressive facility in just 18 months. However, building work began on the site in April 2003 and by September 2004, the track was hosting the first Chinese Formula One Grand Prix.
Similar in style to the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia, with its modern structures made from aluminium, glass and steel, the Shanghai Circuit is another master piece by circuit designer Hermann Tilke.
Located northeast of Anting Town in the Jiading district of Shanghai, the circuit is ideally positioned to attract international visitors. The site is effectively marsh land, which means that the buildings and race tracks had to be floated on polystyrene. This makes the suspended media centre and restaurant, which form two bridges over the track, even more impressive. The massive grandstand on the main straight, together with the sub and temporary grandstands, will hold over 200,000 spectators.
Track length: 4.6 km (2.9 miles)
Lap record: 1m36.033s, recorded by Jonny Reid, A1 Team New Zealand, April 2007
The A1GP Shanghai, China event runs from 11-13 April, starting with the rookie driver and developing nations’ sessions on Friday morning from 11.00 to 11.25 and again from 11.35 to 12.00. All 22 teams can take part in the later practice session from 14.00 to 15.00. Final practice and qualifying for the Sprint and Feature race will take place on Saturday with the two races scheduled to run on Sunday at 11.00 and 15.00 respectively.
Live video and audio coverage of both qualifying and the Feature race is available for free over the internet at www.A1GP.com/livevideo (video restricted in selected regions).
2007/08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport points standings
POS / A1 TEAM/ POINTS1 Switzerland 1282 New Zealand 113
3 France 1084 Great Britain 955 South Africa 886 Netherlands 807 Germany 778 Ireland 739 Canada 6210 China 4511 Brazil 4412 India 3013 USA 2914 Portugal 2815 Mexico 2216 Australia 2017 Malaysia 1218 Czech Republic 1019 Italy 720 Pakistan 1
This season’s fixture list is as follows:
Date Event1) 30 September 2007 A1GP Zandvoort, The Netherlands2) 14 October 2007 A1GP Brno, Czech Republic3) 25 November 2007 A1GP Sepang, Malaysia4) 16 December 2007 A1GP Zhuhai, China5) 20 January 2008 A1GP Taupo, New Zealand6) 3 February 2008 A1GP Sydney, Australia7) 24 February 2008 A1GP Durban, South Africa8) 16 March 2008 A1GP Mexico City, Mexico9) 13 April 2008 A1GP Shanghai, China10) 4 May 2008 A1GP Brands Hatch, Great Britain