It’s almost time for the A1GP series to get underway for it’s third season, with testing going on over the last weeks, and both new and old drivers being named to fill the seats on the grid form each country.
The series has managed to capture the attention of a good fan base around the world, but in order to spice up the action even more there have been some significant rule changes over the second off season.
New Qualifying Format
Qualifying has been changed significantly. There will still be four qualifying segments of 15 minutes each, but now the first two sessions will be used to set the grid for the first (sprint) race, and the second two quarters will be used to set the grid for the second (feature) race.
This means teams will no longer have to worry about two flying laps counting towards and aggregate time, and also they won’t have to worry about their finishing place in the first race determining their starting position for the feature race.
Extra Pit Stop
The number of required pitstops for the feature race has been increased from one to two. The first one must still be completed between laps 8 and 16 of the feature race, while the new one will have a window, but that window will only be announced as pit lane opens 30 minutes before the start of the race.
With only 30 minutes to get their race strategy organized it should make for some interesting strategy decisions.
In an attempt to close up the championship even further, and keep more nations in the championship longer, there has been a points shake up, with extra points on offer deeper into the field.
The points for each race (both sprint and feature races are worth the same) will be awarded as follows: 1st 15, 2nd 12, 3rd 10, 4th 8, 5th 6, 6th 5, 7th 4, 8th 3, 9th 2, 10th 1, with an extra point available for setting fastest lap in each race.
My 2 Cents
The racing over the last two seasons has been good, but the old system of setting the grid by incorporating the results of the sprint race did lead to situations where I am sure drivers backed off to secure a place instead of chasing hard more often than anyone would have liked. Kudos to A1GP for correcting that situation and moving the allocation of grid positions back to where it should be, in qualifying.
Also it is great to see qualifying moving back to the more traditional “go for it witout any constraints” qualifying, without any worries about having to put in two great laps to secure your grid position for the sprint race. This series bills itself as the World Cup of Motorsport, and features the future titans and lions of motorsport, so they should be out there going all out, not holding anything back. Now if only we could get the FIA and Bernie to take notice for Q3 in Formula One.
As for the points being awarded further into the field, that too is a good thing. With young drivers going all out there is sure to be additional chances for mistakes, so with the extra points safety net a driver can screw up a little, and still remain in the points.
Overall some good improvements to a series that is gaining popularity, and quite honestly is one of the best series to watch.