Monday, December 11, 2006

A1GP is fun

I watched my first A1GP race last Wednesday, the opening round from Zandvoort. I have to admit that I was rather entertained! Typically I'm not a big fan of open-wheel racing, but I got rather caught up in the nationalism of the whole thing, and was saddened when Team GB ran off the track in race 2 and when Team USA finally succumbed to the pressure of the Germans.

Yes, the cars are kind of silly-looking. And yes, the drivers are generally unknowns, pulled from various lower-level national open-wheel series such as Formula BMW or Formula Renault. But that doesn't really matter very much when you've got Canada battling against the USA, Britain up against Germany and India and Pakistan fighting for the same piece of land. Err, I mean track...

It's been said that spec-racing is a growing trend in motorsport. Audiences want close racing, and cars that are equal usually help achieve this goal. Even when cars are unequal, organizers work to address this. Japanese Super GT and the World Touring Car series both have an active ballast-handicapping system, and the American Le Mans Series implemented an unwieldy system of its own to equalize Corvette and Aston Martin in 2006. The result was as expected: close, unpredictable racing.

A1GP goes one step further, by actually removing the importance of who a driver is, and instead making it about the country. It's a rarely-used approach in motorsport (Michelin Race of Champions and the MX de Nations come to mind as other examples), but utterly compelling.

The long-term viability of a series that lost tens of millions of dollars in its first season is certainly questionable, but for now it's still going, and I'm looking forward to watching round two on Speed Channel this Wednesday.

1 comment:

Race Tech Radio said...

Hello! Hey you know what same with me. I missed the first broadcast on Speed but I caught the race this week in Czech. I am a fan of open wheel though and A1GP is great thing to watch in the off season.