A1 GP Malaysia
Picture by A1GP.com

The A1 Grand Prix World Cup of Motorsports was initiated 4 years ago by its founding fathers; Arab billionaire Sheikh Maktoum Hasher Maktoum Al Maktoum and Tony Teixeira. Let’s have a look at the history of the A1GP and how it works.

A1 GP
Picture by A1GP.com

Part of the initial vision included the fact that this new motorsport series must offer participants a level playing field, by offering identical racing machines and suppliers to a number of teams and their drivers.

The most crucial, or a well known identity of the sport; is teams and drivers represent their respective nations, hence the term “World Cup of Motorsports”. This means that there is only one points based championship, which the team’s, and it is also typical to see teams selecting more than one driver to drive over the weekend.

So to sum it up, A1 GP differs to the very successful Formula 1 World Championships in terms of a level playing field among participants and that each team represent a nation. The problem with Formula 1 is that since there are many different engine and chassis suppliers and different teams that have access to different levels of monetary investments, which further dictate the type of parts they can acquire, not to mention development technologies and testing time.

A1 GP
Picture by A1GP.com

Alhtough Bernie Ecclestone (founder of the F1 series) is doing his best to offer a more level playing field such as limiting testing time and so on, but part of the identity of the sport is its different teams and their their variable performance capabilities. If you think about it, such a case is rather beneficial to us, car buyers, as car makers can benefit from F1 technology. Case in point; the new BMW M3’s mouth watering V8 derives some of it’s technology from BMW’s F1 involvement.

Another interesting feature of the A1 GP is that its held during F1 break; which is between October till March; a clever thing to do because lets face it, F1 has been around for over half a century, so why bother going head to head with it?

In September 2005, the first season was held with 25 teams, and now it is in it’s fourth season (example of a season indication: 2008/09). In terms of suppliers, the first three years saw A1 teams utilizing chassis developed by British firm Lola and engine by Zytek Engineering, based on initial concepts by Sheikh Maktoum. Rubber were supplied by US based Cooper Tires.

A1 GP
Picture by A1GP.com

For the 2008/09 season, the entire A1 racer is developed by Ferrari, and the Italian motorsport giant will continue to do so for at least six years. Tires are now supplied by Michelin, after the French firm’s exit from Formula 1, and to be honest, apart from giving A1 GP a better image, the new 600 bhp Ferrari looks so much better than the third generation A1 single seater, and most importantly, its a “Ferrarrri”, you gotta pronounce that with an Italian accent!

Malaysia participated in the series since its inception, finishing 5th and 6th respectively overall for its first two seasons.

Story by Harvinder Singh Sidhu

Friday:

2 x Rookie Sessions – for new drivers get the grips on their races.
1 x 1 Hour Free Practice sessions.

Saturday:

1 x 1 Hour Free Practice
2 x 10 mins Qualifying runs for Sprint Race – best time among the two sessions determine grid positions for Sunday’s Sprint Race.
2 x 10 mins Qualitfying run for Feature Race – best time among the two sessions determine grid positions for Sunday’s Feature Race.

Sunday:

Sprint Race: Maximum of 24 minutes (plus 1 lap) with rolling start. One mandatory pit stop (drivers can only enter pits at designated pit windows/entrance time).

Feature Race: Maximum of 69 minutes (plus 1 lap) with standing start. Two mandatory pit stops (drivers can only enter pits at designated pit windows/entrance time).

A1 GP
Picture by A1GP.com

Points Allocation:

Sprint Race:
First Place – 10 Points
Second Place – 8 Points
Third Place – 6 Points
Fourth Place – 5 Points
Fifth Place – 4 Points
Sixth Place – 3 Points
Seventh Place – 2 Points
Eighth Place – 1 Point

Feature Race:
First Place – 15 Points
Second Place – 12 Points
Third Place – 10 Points
Fourth Place – 8 Points
Fifth Place – 6 Points
Sixth Place – 5 Points
Seventh Place – 4 Points
Eighth Place – 3 Points
Ninth Place – 2 Points
Tenth Place – 1 Point

1 bonus point will be awarded to the fastest lap achieved by a team during the Sprint Race and Feature Race.

PHOTO GALLERY: 2008/09 A1 GP at Sepang
Photos by A1GP.com – click thumbnails to view high res photo

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