A1 TEAM GREAT BRITAIN HOLDS SUCCESSFUL DRIVER EVALUATION London, 25th May. Under the watchful eye of A1 Team Great Britain Team Principal, John Surtees, four of Britain's most successful young drivers took part in an ...
A1 TEAM GREAT BRITAIN HOLDS SUCCESSFUL DRIVER EVALUATION
London, 25th May. Under the watchful eye of A1 Team Great Britain Team Principal, John Surtees, four of Britain's most successful young drivers took part in an evaluation test for a coveted place as part of the team that will compete in the inaugural A1 Grand Prix Series, the World Cup of Motorsport.
Ralph Firman, Robbie Kerr, Alex Lloyd and James Rossiter were all very impressive over the two days at Brands Hatch on Monday and Tuesday (23rd/24th May). They drove a Formula 3000 car run by Arden International Motorsport, who will be running the entry in the new series. Now John Surtees and the Arden team will have to make some very important but very difficult decisions.
On the first day it was Ralph and Robbie who drove. They each completed 60 laps of the Brands Hatch Indy Circuit in dry conditions. The weather deteriorated overnight and Alex and James were faced with driving rain for their runs. The team, run by John Bright, gave them 20 laps each in the morning. They then put Robbie back in the car for a further 20 laps in the rain so they had some sort of benchmark.
At the end of the two days John Surtees explained the criteria they would use for their selection: "I want to make it quite clear we are not just going to look at the times. We want to see how people gel, and so we want to see how the driver relates to the team. He has not only got to adapt to the car but also get on with the engineers, mechanics and other team personnel. Also I believe motorsport is controlled too much by money. You get drivers like the four we have tested and it comes down to money and not ability. We are giving these drivers the chance to get out on the world motorsport stage and show what they can do without the added pressure of having to find finance. It is going to be difficult to make our decision. We have to make this relatively quickly and eventually we may select two rather than just one."
The Arden team was also impressed with what it saw and the feed back from John Bright was: "All the drivers have acquitted themselves very well, and we have lots of data to help us. I believe the chances of A1 Team Great Britain doing well in the series is excellent. I can assure everyone that John Surtees and Arden have not got involved to make up the numbers!" Not surprisingly the four drivers all relished the opportunity they had been given.
Ralph Firman's comment after being the first driver to test was: "This is the first time I have driven a single seater since I was in the actual A1 GP car, and the first time I have driven at Brands Hatch since 1996. I love Brands Hatch as a circuit and think Paddock is one of the best corners at any racing track. The whole A1 Grand Prix project is exciting and it would be great if I could be in the series racing under the British colours."
Robbie Kerr, has also tested the A1 Grand Prix car, and his thoughts were: "The last time I raced here in 2002 I won, so I hope I have been able to impress with what I have done in the Formula 3000 car. The nation versus nation concept is amazing and it is the sort of opportunity up to now we could only dream of."
Alex Lloyd was the first driver out in the rain, but this did not dampen his enthusiasm: "The weather was a little bit trickier for me and the team, but as a racing driver I just have to get on and do the job in any conditions. The team were great and it made me appreciate why they have won many titles and earned their reputation. I have represented England in the internations karting competition a couple of times, but it is not quite the same as this. In any sport the greatest honour is to represent your country and here we have the opportunity for the first time."
James Rossiter, who had come straight from a successful weekend driving in Formula 3 at Monaco, said: "John Surtees is a legend in his own right and so for me it is great to be able to work with someone like him. The weather wasn't on our side, but I actually enjoy driving in the wet as you can slide the car more. While there is a big difference between F3 and F3000, I have experience of more power thanks to having driven in an F1 test. Brands is also a good track for me as I won here in Formula 3 last year. It would be great to represent my country in this championship and so I am now keeping my fingers crossed for the outcome."
A1 Team Great Britain has now officially launched its web site so all details of the team and its activities can be seen on www.A1TeamGBR.com. Background on A1 Grand Prix In March 2004, in his home land of Dubai, the A1 Grand Prix Series Founder, President and Chairman, His Highness Sheikh Maktoum Hasher Maktoum Al Maktoum launched the unique concept of a World Cup of Motorsport where the two worlds of business and motorsport would meet.
The series will create a level playing field for teams with identical cars that owe much to UK motorsport technology. The chassis is produced by Huntingdon's Lola International and the engine by Zytek Engineering, who are based in Repton, Derbyshire. The cars will all run on the same tyres from the Cooper Tire & Rubber Company, based in the USA, but whose racing operation is run by Avon Tyres Racing out of the company's UK premises in Melksham, Wiltshire.
The first race of the A1 Grand Prix series will be at Brands Hatch on the 25th September and this, along with all the rounds, will be shown live in the UK on Sky Sports. The full calendar is yet to be released, but A1 Grand Prix has already announced China and Australia will host rounds of the series that is to be run over the northern hemisphere's winter months -- motor racing's traditional off season. Sixteen nations -- Great Britain, China, South Africa, Pakistan, Portugal, Lebanon, Canada, Malaysia, Australia, Mexico, South Korea, Turkey, Netherlands, India, Brazil and New Zealand -- have already signed up. Many more are in the pipeline and each race will see the national pride of at least eighty per cent of the world's population represented on the grid.