Chengdu: Team Switzerland preview

Swiss A1GP team to run its own car in China The Swiss A1 team is now confident after the season opener at Zandvoort that didn't go particularly well. The test with a brand-new car at Silverstone on October 27th, added to the planning at short ...

Swiss A1GP team to run its own car in China

The Swiss A1 team is now confident after the season opener at Zandvoort that didn't go particularly well. The test with a brand-new car at Silverstone on October 27th, added to the planning at short notice, was satisfactory. Neel Jani can expect to build on his achievements from the past season in the upcoming races at Chengdu (China).

As the assembly of the new chassis was delayed, the participation of the Swiss team in The Netherlands was in doubt for a long time. Eventually, Neel Jani took over the car of Team Pakistan. Their tall driver Adam Khan didn't feel comfortable in the car and refrained from racing it for safety reasons. With fifth place in the sprint race and an early retirement in the feature race due to problems with the gearbox electronics, the result for Switzerland as defending champions was rather poor. This weekend, the Swiss will now have their "own" car.

The A1GP series will be racing at Chengdu for the first time. China's fifth-largest city is located in the Sichuan province in the south-west of the country. The circuit, 16 kilometres away from the city, is 3.367 kilometres long, is being run clockwise and has 13 corners. Neel Jani already flew to China on Sunday and is quite optimistic: "After the successful roll-out at Silverstone, there is no reason to assume that we will not be strong at Chengdu. Like almost all other drivers, it is my first time here. At some points, the track is quite narrow for our fast cars and reportedly it is a little bit bumpy as well. But I like to face special challenges and I am confident that we will be able to add to our points' tally before we head to my favourite track at Sepang in a fortnight."

Like three times last season already, Alexandre Imperatori will be Switzerland's rookie driver. The 21-year old from Freiburg will have the duty to warm-up the brakes and to carry out initial set-up work on Friday morning. Swiss team principal Max Welti rates Imperatori: "Last winter, Alexandre did a good job." Imperatori has been competing successfully in Asian championships since 2004. After four years in Formula Renault with a runner-up position and a championship title, he finished runner-up in the 2008 Japanese Formula 3 championship.

At Chengdu, Neel Jani will meet two familiar drivers from Formula 1. Eleven times' Grand Prix racer Robert Doornbos will be racing for The Netherlands. Back in 2006, he raced for Red Bull when the Swiss was the test driver for sister team Toro Rosso. In that season, India's Narain Karthikeyan had the test driver's role at Williams. One year earlier, he raced in 19 Grands Prix with Jordan.

There will also be two sons of prominent Formula 1 drivers racing in China. 21-year old Marco Andretti will be making his debut for Team USA. His father Michael raced for McLaren in 1993, grand father Mario raced for Ferrari, Lotus (1978 world champion) and Alfa Romeo between 1968 and 1982. France has nominated Nicolas Prost, the 27-year old son of four times' world champion Alain Prost.

On May 12th of this year, Sichuan was hit by a severe earthquake (7.9 on Richter's scale). The epicentre was 75 kilometres north-east of Chengdu, the capital of the province. More than 70,000 people were killed and almost six million were homeless. The A1 management and the local organisers have decided that all the profits from the event will go to a foundation to help the victims.

-credit: switzerland

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About this article
Series A1GP
Drivers Alain Prost , Robert Doornbos , Marco Andretti , Neel Jani , Adam Khan , Max Welti , Nicolas Prost , Alexandre Imperatori
Teams Toro Rosso , Williams