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Is The World Cup Of Motorsport On Its Deathbed?

Adrian Musolino
Adrian Musolino

In just over a months time the A1GP season, the self proclaimed World Cup of Motorsport, is set to roar into its fifth season on the iconic street circuit of Surfers Paradise. But rumours are increasing that it won’t make it. 

So close to the start of the season, this is a time when teams/countries should be announcing their drivers with anticipation building for the season ahead.

Yet the silence is deafening.

The only news surrounding A1GP is speculation of its imminent demise with rumours of unpaid freight bills, a standoff between series organisers and car/engine supplier Ferrari and a rumoured auction of its equipment to raise funds. 

A1GP’s financial position has long been in a perilous state having lost hundreds of millions in its creation and running. Its inability to secure substantial financial backing has cost it dearly. 

The situation was partly self-inflicted with some big risks taken with an aggressive calendar of races around the world and grand expectations and predictions made when it was first launched.

Considering the teams, branded in national colours, couldn’t rely on sponsorship to the same extent that other teams in other categories could, it was always going to be difficult for the series to support itself. 

The situation was worsened by the global financial crisis as A1GP stuttered through its fourth season with race cancellations overshadowing its new Ferrari connection. 

But now question marks surround season five.

The Queensland Government received an unconditional written assurance from A1GP bosses that the series will be racing at Surfers Paradise.

But the absence of a concrete calendar for the season ahead, the lack of any news on drivers from any of the teams and the cancellation of European tests so close to the start of the season suggests that the financial quagmire the category is in is serious. 

Even if A1GP arrives in Australia for the season opener, what are the chances it will see out the season?

It needs to find a backer with deep pockets fast. 

But in this difficult economy, with the proliferation of other open wheel motorsport categories and new teams entering Formula 1, the pool of potential backers is shrinking. 

It will be a terrible shame if A1GP was to collapse. 

For fans it represented an alternative to the politically motivated and increasingly stale Formula 1. 

It promised close racing, exciting and changeable drive line-ups and an Olympic type patriotic feel. 

But perhaps this promise of grandeur is what partly doomed the category.

Perhaps it couldn’t live up to the expectations.

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