The Brazilian driver Nelsinho Piquet won the first phase of the new world car racing championship, the A1 Grand Prix, which took place, Sunday, September 25, in Brands Hatch, in Great Britain.
Nelsinho was the pole position and finished the race in 55min1s910. In second place came the Australian Will Power, with 55min13s240 and in third place was the Mexican Salvador Duran, with 55min25s035.
Each phase of the championship is made up by two races, worth ten points each, where the first one sets out the starting grid. The first driver is awarded 10 points and the tenth, one point. The team that runs the fastest lap within the two races gets an extra point.
As well as winning the two races, Nelsinho also won the extra point for running the fastest lap in the second race, adding up to a total of 21 points for Brazil.
The prize for the winner was of US$ 300,000. In all, US$ 1 million were shared amongst the ten top positions.
The A1 Grand Prix, called the “World Cup” in car racing, was created by the Dubai sheikh, Maktoum Hasher Al-Maktoum, and the aim is to hold a competition between 25 countries. The next phase will be held on the 9th of October, in Lausitz, Germany.
The 25 countries participating in the A1 are: South Africa, Germany, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, the United States, France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, India, Indonesia, Italy, Ireland, Japan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Pakistan, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Russia and Switzerland.
The Brazilian team has two drivers, who will alternate races. In the opening race, driver Nelsinho Piquet, the British Formula 3 champion in 2004, was chosen. For the next phase, the driver has not been officially selected. However, among the possible names is that of Tony Kanaan, the Indy Racing League (IRL) champion in 2004.
The reserve driver will be João Paulo de Oliveira, current Japanese Formula 3 champion. A1 Grand Prix will have 12 races and the 9th will be in Brazil, at the racetrack in Curitiba, capital of the southern Brazilian state of Paraná, in February 2006.
The idea behind this new category is the competition between countries, as the cars (single-seaters similar to those used in Formula 1 – F1) will be identical. According to Maktoum, A1 will be the first “World Cup” of auto racing. There will be 25 countries competing for a US$ 1 million prize per race.
Each team will have two cars, one official and one reserve. In total, the sheikh purchased 50 single-seaters, with Lola chassis and 540 horsepower Zytek engines. Nelsinho has already tested the car during a collective practice run at the end of August.
The teams will be supplied the cars under a system similar to a franchise. In the case of the Brazilian one, the “franchisee” is football player Ronaldo Nazário, who plays for Spanish football team Real Madrid. The team also includes twice F1 world championship Emerson Fittipaldi as technical director.
Son of three times F1 world champion Nelson Piquet, Nelsinho began his career at the age of eight, racing karts. He was world champion of the category three times between 1995 and 2000. In 2001, the young driver entered the South American Formula 3, being elected the rookie of the year. In 2002 he was South American Formula 3 champion and, in the following year, starred in the British Formula 3 in his own team, Piquet Sports.
Last year, Nelsinho was the champion of the British Formula 3, with six wins, 13 podiums and five pole positions. In 2005, the driver, at the age of 20, competed in the GP2 Series, a category similar to F1, driving for team Hitech Piquet Sports. The driver won his first race in the GP2 in Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, on September 10.
Since the official announcement of the A1 Grand Prix calendar, in May, the championship has suffered some changes. Apart from the change of the ninth race, from Monterrey, Mexico, to Paraná, Brazil, the last race, in China, will take place in Shanghai, and not in Beijing. Another modification is that instead of ending on March 26, the last race will take place on April 02, 2006.
9/25 – Brands Hatch, England
10/9 – Lausitz, Germany
10/23 – Estoril, Portugal
11/6 – Eastern Creek, Australia
11/20 – Sepang, Malaysia
12/11 – Dubai, United Arab Emirates
1/15/2006 – Sentul, Indonesia
1/29 – Durban, South Africa
2/12 – Curitiba, Brazil
2/26 – Monterrey, Mexico
3/19 – Laguna Seca, United States
4/2 – Shanghai, China
Anba – www.anba.com.br