The intercontinental expansion planned by Auto GP for 2012 keeps getting plaudits. The Series announced an extended calendar for next year, with 8 events and three intercontinental trips to Brazil, USA and Japan: this means that, F1 aside, Auto GP will be the only open-wheel Series to touch three continents next season.
It’s an ambitious plan, that has already been given praise from the highest levels of the motorsport world. The last to express his backing for the concept was Daniele Audetto, one of the most appreciated managers in motorsport. In the last 40 years Mr. Audetto was a constant presence in the nerve centres of Formula 1: he was Sporting Director at Ferrari in 1977 when Niki Lauda won the World Championship, and then he took on top managing roles (both sporting and business ones) in Lamborghini, Arrows, Renault and Super Aguri.
Mr. Audetto, who now lives in Spain, was in Valencia to pay a visit to the Auto GP paddock, and had a chat with Mr. Coloni about the plans for 2012. Here are his thoughts on the Championship:
“In my broad working experience I always noticed how Formula One takes around 90 per cent of all the motorsport-related attention. While this is undoubtedly good for F1, it makes things particularly difficult for all the other championships, series that not only shouldn’t be deemed as ‘minor’ but that deserve an high consideration as powerful learning tools for the drivers, especially in the last few years with limited testing possibilities in F1.In such a setting, I believe that Auto GP boasts some advantages compared to other series”.
What kind of advantages?“First of all, from a technical standpoint the car is very good, it’s both very competitive and very propaedeutic so it gives a driver the chance to improve and showcase his talent. Furthermore, this happens in a context that provides both the Eurosport TV coverage, meaning great awareness, and the presence of a World Championship like WTCC, something that could open new opportunities.The second advantage is the level of the competition: proven talents as Luca Filippi and Adam Carroll are racing against young guns as Ceccon, Venturini, Afanasiev, Tambay, Buttarelli and Campos Jr, just to name a few.The importance of this shouldn’t be underestimated: not only Filippi and Carroll are still winning drivers in GP2, but I managed them when they were testing for Honda in F1 and I can tell you that they were just as quick as Jenson Button, the 2009 F1 World Champion.So, those young guns have some very quick benchmarks to match, and they know that if they can cope with that they are doing a great job.So with such an high level in both the technical and competition sides, Auto GP has created an alternative to other much more expensive championship, like GP2 for example, to launch drivers directly to Formula One”.
What do you think about the 2012 intercontinental plan?“Well, I see it as the ideal way to bring a championship that is already very good as it is from an European dimension to a Worldwide one. Touching South America, with Brazil, North America, with the USA, and Asia, with Japan, will surely raise the TV and media attention, making the Series appealing for new partners. With that I don’t mean just drivers but also sponsors, technical partners and so on.This will allow Enzo Coloni to address what is the only issue with the championship now, the size of the grid. Thanks to this new plan I’m sure that an expert and skilled manager like Enzo will be able to bring around 20 cars on track, adding even more quality to an already stunning package”.