The world doesn’t need another rival to Formula One, despite what
you’ll hear from the opportunist marketing types and rich Middle
Eastern investors who would like to inflict a poor man’s alternative
Formula One on world motor sport. The proposal doesn’t solve the
manifest problems besetting Formula One and if anything it will
exacerbate them.

Motor racing at an elite level is prohibitively expensive and straining
under the weight of its own international rivalries. When former
Formula One champion Alan Jones tells us the new kid on the grid, the
A1 Grand Prix, “is a great innovation, like nothing ever seen
before in motor racing” – it smacks of a used-car salesman’s pitch, and a
pretty poor one at that.

A1 Grand Prix of Nations is proposed as an out of season open-wheeler
franchise in which teams represent their country. Jones is the
chairman of the Australian A1 Grand Prix franchise which is in the
process of raising private funding from local investors.

Racing from September this year through to March 2006, this new
international 12-race series is billed as the “World Cup of Motor sport”
and has scheduled the fourth leg on 4-6 November at Sydney’s
Eastern Creek International Raceway.

Jones has now confirmed senior
appointments in the organisation, and marketing and public
relations services are provided by ICON International Communications.
Singleton Ogilvy & Matheron handles advertising, STW Sports and Ev
pentsis are responsible for sourcing sponsorship, and Elite Sports
Properties takes care of corporate hospitality.

With A1 Team Australia still to announce its drivers – and the
TV broadcast rights yet to be negotiated – there’s still much to be
done before the Australian franchise is under starter’s orders. The
question is who will be bothered to turn up at Eastern Creek to watch
this new race?

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey