This Friday, Auto Sport Switzerland and the National Sports Commission have awarded A1 Team Switzerland the 'Auto Sport Award' for special merits regarding Swiss motor racing.
In May 2008, the Swiss squad secured the title in the 20-race A1 GP Series season, the "A1GP World Cup of Motorsport". As representatives of the squad, Team Principal Max Welti and driver Neel Jani received the award on Friday evening in Bern.
"To be cited in one breath with former winners of the highest Swiss motor-sport award, such as Jo Siffert, Clay Regazzoni, Peter Sauber and Ulrich Giezendanner, represents a big honour for us," said Max Welti. "Therefore, we want to represent Switzerland with even bigger commitment in the motor-racing world, in the future. We will give our very best to successfully defend our title in the already running fourth A1GP season."
The Auto Sport Award ties in with the long-term tradition of the former Automobile Sport Authority that used to award the 'Prize of the Central President'. With this award, Switzerland pays tribute to the dedication and achievements of the representatives of a nation that neither has got an own circuit suitable for international motor-racing events nor can rely on the support of an own automotive industry.
The fact that Swiss racing drivers again and again succeed in making it to the highest motor-racing categories, nevertheless, is due to the tireless commitment of sponsors and patrons on the one side as well as the logically structured young-driver support programme on the other. Neel Jani, for instance, made his first steps on the single-seater racing ladder - at the age of 16 - in the Formula A (today Formula Lista Junior). After having secured the title in this affordable series, in his maiden car-racing season, he won several races in the Formula Renault, the GP2 Series and - since 2005 - the A1GP Series.
Major merits for the successes of the Swiss A1 team are due to Max Welti. With his long-term activities as racing driver and manager, the 56-year old has contributed massively to the reputation of Swiss automobile racing - both in Switzerland and abroad.