A1 Team France starts its 2008-09 campaign in the Netherlands on the Zandvoort circuit this weekend, which hosts the opening round of the ten events on the fourth A1GP season’s calendar. Between now and next May 23 teams will do battle to win the World Cup of Motorsport.
The season kicks off tomorrow and numerous changes have been made to the regulations. The biggest is the arrival of a new car designed by the Ferrari engineers and shod by Michelin. The first round already has a taste of victory for A1 Team France as their car, which was assembled in the past 3 days in England, will travel overnight and will be ready in all its gleaming beauty for the first practice session at 09h00 tomorrow morning. The car will not be decorated in its final livery until the next round in China, and will be in 100% carbon colours for the inaugural event.
Loïc Duval who will be driving it this weekend should be able to get to grips with it pretty quickly, while the engineers will try to pierce its secrets in the shortest possible time. The mechanics will use the weekend as a full-scale test: the car shares not a single component with the previous one. Nicolas Prost, one of the drivers selected for the French team this season, will attend the practice sessions to learn a maximum amount of data about the new machine.
The weekend’s aim will be to get to know this brand new car and to sort out the first set-ups. The A1 Team France members are the same as last season, which will enable the squad to count on absolute stability and cohesion right from the word go. So a rostrum finish straight away – why not?
Olivier Panis, sporting director: “A new season is beginning and our motivation is as strong as ever. Last year we were among the front runners and this season we’re going for the title. To do so we have to rack up consistent results and try and score points in each race. The new car is really fantastic, and represents a big step forward for the A1GP championship in just a few seasons. I’d like to congratulate the whole team for all the effort they’ve put in over the past few weeks. If we’re actually racing here in Holland this weekend, it’s because the mechanics have worked round the clock to assemble the car. A rostrum finish would be a great reward!”
Loïc Duval, driver: “I can’t wait to get behind the wheel of this new car which is supposed to be like an F1 of three or four years ago. Nobody has had the chance to test it so far so it’s the same level playing field for everybody here at Zandvoort. It’ll be a big challenge, as we have to find out how to tune the chassis and the engine, optimise the set-up and prepare for the two races on Sunday. We’re not frightened by this perspective. Quite the opposite, in fact, as it’s the kind that gives our motivation a double boost!”