Zhuhai: Team Switzerland names Imperatori as rookie

A1 Team Switzerland is to give 20-year-old Alexandre Imperatori from Chatel Saint Denis near Fribourg, his first outing as the team's rookie driver at the first Chinese round of the current A1GP World Cup of Motorsport season on December ...

A1 Team Switzerland is to give 20-year-old Alexandre Imperatori from Chatel Saint Denis near Fribourg, his first outing as the team's rookie driver at the first Chinese round of the current A1GP World Cup of Motorsport season on December 14.

The 20-year-old Swiss driver has never tested for the team or driven an A1GP car, however, his experience from three years of racing in Asia and six past races at Zhuhai made him a natural choice for team principal Max Welti for the rookie session.

Alexandre Imperatori started karting when he was just four years old and has a strong racing experience in junior formulae with his first win in single seater at the Zhuhai circuit in 2004 in the Asian Formula Renault Championship. Alexandre finished second in the Asian Formula Renault championship this season on November 26, 2007.

"I am really happy to be joining the team and I am looking forward to working with everyone, Imperatori said. This is a new step in my career. Zhuhai has been my home track for the last three years. I will make use of my experience there to best help the A1 team Switzerland on its first visit to Zhuhai. I do hope to bring a lot of experience to the team."

"My first win on this track dates back to 2004," Imperatori added. "I know the track well since my team was based at this track. I will have to learn to handle the car, but I can drive around the track with my eyes closed and can give good advice to Neel on the best lines to be quick in the blind turns and to avoid under-steering on this track. I followed the A1 Grand Prix series during their its first visit to China. I am so pleased to be able to work with Neel Jani and Max Welti. I have followed my national teams success very closely and am looking forward to learning a lot from them."

Max Welti, team principal, A1 Team Switzerland, "It is a bit unusual to choose a rookie driver with no experience in the car. But Alexandre Imperatori's knowledge of the track puts him in a unique position to help us. I am hopeful that our engineers will have a good working relationship with the fresh Asian Formula Renault championship runner-up and that we will benefit from his valuable experience on-track to prepare for a good weekend for the team and Neel Jani."

Q and A with Alexandre Imperatori

Q: When was your last race this season?

A: I finished my season two weeks ago in the F3 Asian Championship and am second overall in the championship. The results prepared me for a high level challenge for next season in F3 Japan.

Q: How long have you been in China?

A: I settled here in Zhuhai when I was 17 and have been racing and living in the direct neighbourhood of the track. I can even understand Chinese pretty well now as its rare to meet someone in the shops here who can speak fluent English.

Q: What are your best and worst memories?

A: My best memory is my first win in a single seater on this Zhuhai track. My worst memory is competing in an eight-year-old car that was not mine in Beijing when customs had blocked my car on the way back from a race weekend in Malaysia. The team had not managed to get my car back on time for the race: It was still impounded at customs Not racing with your own car is a bit like walking with shoes that are not the right size for you.

Q: What do you do during the off season?

A: I am a student at the Swiss Federal Polytechnic Institute of Lausanne (EPFL) and working on a masters in engineering.

Q: What will you say to Neel Jani?

A: Trust your engineers and push in the last turn, which is the most technical but quick and blind. It is important to get the best line at the right moment to get out with minimum understeer and to keep the grip and the speed. It's a lot of fun to drive.

Alexandre Imperatori biography

Alexandre Imperatori was born on 19 April 1987 in Chatel Saint Denis near Fribourg, Switzerland. He had his first taste of motorsport in karts at the age of four and started competing professionally in 1993. By 2002 he had won the French karting championship and was the best French driver in the European championship.

In 2003 Alexandre competed in Formula Campus, his first experience in a single seater, and his strong performances earned him a drive in Asian Formula Renault in 2004. That year he took his first win at Zhuhai and continued in the competitive series the following year when he also launched ARC, an organisation which provides driving instruction to European drivers in China.

Alexandre continued in Asian Formula Renault in 2006 winning the Chinese Formula Renault championship and finishing runner-up in the Asian series. He was runner-up again in 2007 and tested for the World Series while also taking on driving duties as rookie for A1 Team Switzerland in the A1 Grand Prix round at Zhuhai

-credit: switzerland

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Series A1GP
Drivers Neel Jani , Max Welti , Alexandre Imperatori