A winning four-mula
We caught up with Georgie Thompson to get the lowdown on the fourth A1GP season, live on Sky Sports.
Last Updated: 02/10/08 8:58am
A1GP is back for its fourth season and as ever Sky Sports will be bringing you all the action live.
The World Cup of Motorsport will again be taking it's roadshow across the world, with a new Ferrari-powered car on display. As ever, it's the same car, same specifications for every nation.
And as ever, the gorgeous Georgie Thompson will be fronting our coverage, so before the season gets off to it's belated start in Holland this weekend, we caught up with our A1GP girl to find out more about the coming season...
This is the fourth season of A1GP on Sky Sports. Do you think it's fully established in the minds - and calendars - of motor racing fans.
GEORGIE: It's interesting to be involved in a sport from conception to reality and from there watch it grow. Of course A1GP has had it's teething problems, like any new competition, but year on year it comes back stronger and more competitive which is what race fans want to see.
The new season was due to get underway in September. Why the delay?
GEORGIE: Designing, producing, launching an entirely new car for this season has proven a big ask. To do it on time, even bigger. Perhaps the schedulers were a little optimistic to think all the cars would be ready for September, but we're only one race weekend behind so it's not a complete disaster.
The new car you mention is powered by Ferrari no less. What difference will that make to the action on the track?
GEORGIE: As we've said all along the brand name of Ferrari will help the credibility of the series no end. As for the action on track, the cars are a big step up from the original A1GP model, so will it be a much more physical challenge for the drivers. The cream of the crop will certainly rise to the top this season.
And what about changes to the rules and format? The organisers have certainly been busy over the summer...
GEORGIE: What's great about A1GP is it's always evolving, trying new things to make it as good as it can be. The qualifying format has been tweaked, with each of the four sessions being reduced from 15 to 10 minutes in length, with the same five-minute break between each. The Sprint Race grid is still determined from each driver's best time in sessions one and two, with the Feature Race grid compiled from sessions three and four. However, the points' allocation for the Sprint Race has now been reduced, with only the top eight scoring on a scale of 10, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. A1GP have also announced plans for a street circuit in Indonesia which is an exciting addition to the calendar .
There's also been a mandatory pit-stop added. How does that work?
GEORGIE: Mandatory pit stops are now to be taken between laps four and eight of the Sprint Race. That takes to three the total number to be taken, with the Feature Race already demanding two mandatory stops - which will put extra pressure on teams to make sure they are up to scratch.
What will these changes bring to the competition?
GEORGIE: You can expect the action to be more intense and more competitive for a start. There's more chances now for things to go wrong so, as I say, teamwork will be even more prevalent this season.
What about the people who really matter? Are there any new faces or indeed, new nations to look out for?
GEORGIE: Team Monaco are the new glamourous addition to the series. Its great to have the principality on board with all the motor racing heritage that comes with it. There's also some interesting speculation mounting about Team USA's new driver, which may even put Monaco in the shade, so watch this space!
And what about Great Britain? They say they are only going to use one driver this season. It's a blueprint that has worked for others in the past, but will it bring the same success for Team GBR?
GEORGIE: It's such a shame that Britain have announced they won't be featuring in Zandvoort for a start, but hopefully that will give them the time they need to get their house in order so they are raring to go come China. They've come so close to winning the championship in previous seasons that doing so this year has to be their ultimate goal. Who will get the drive remains to be seen, but using one driver did work well for Switzerland last season and does give the team consistency over the course of a season, so it can be no bad thing.
What of Sky Sports' coverage? What is our line-up for the coming season?
GEORGIE: I'll be presenting the programmes, for qualifying and race day, again. The one and only Tony Jardine is in the expert chair and we'll have a variety of motorsport guests gracing the studio throughout the season. I can't tell you who just yet, but keep an eye out. But of course, the most important bit of course is what happens on the track!
OK, so what will happen on the track? Before we let you go we need a prediction. Who's going to win?
GEORGIE: They might not be at Zandvoort this weekend, but I am going to say Team GBR. They have come close before so hopefully it will be a case of fourth time lucky!