A clean start to the Mexican Sprint race led quickly to an action-packed half-hour as a collision between A1 Teams Mexico and Ireland saw both cars leave the track on the first lap. The safety car was deployed as the track was cleared and the remaining cars took their positions behind it.

Unusually, it was under this safety car session that the next big incident occurred. As the pack headed onto the main straight at the end of lap four Japanese driver, Hayanari Shimoda sped to close the gap between himself and New Zealand’s Black Beauty ahead. But as Matt Halliday braked while Shimoda accelerated the two cars collided with Japan flipping over New Zealand’s rear, rolling twice before landing upside down on the main straight. Bodywork covered the track and the safety car continued to lead the field as a safe route through the debris was cleared. A1 Team New Zealand headed into the pit lane at the end of lap five and the safety car peeled off one lap later.

As racing began again, the Netherland’s Jos Verstappen started his advance through the field, improving on his gains from the opening lap. A1 Team South Africa suffered its second blow of the day, retiring at the end of lap seven with Vulindlela losing power and dropping down the field.

The top four places looked set and the battle moved further down the field as Great Britain’s Robbie Kerr edged past experienced Monterrey driver, Patrick Carpentier in the Canadian car. Great Britain moved into tenth place and took on its closest Series’ rival, A1 Team Brazil. On lap 13, Kerr made his move, pulling alongside Christian Fittipaldi but as their wheels touched, the red, white and blue car spun, narrowly missing the Canadian he had overtaken just two laps before. A1 Team Brazil continued to race but as the damaged caused in the collision began to slow the car, Great Britain tried again and climbed above Brazil one lap later.

Commenting on A1 Team France’s twelfth win, Alexandre Premat said: ‘I’m really pleased with the win, but the car was really difficult to drive. There was a lot of understeer and I will have to speak to the engineers to see what we can do for the Feature race. It will be important to get a good start here as it is difficult to overtake. We’ll see what happens.’

Second place man, Neel Jani commented: ‘It’s very difficult to overtake here, and it is so dirty off line there isn’t much you can do. It just isn’t worth the risk in the Sprint race, as the big race is coming up. Commenting on what will be his last race for A1 Team Switzerland, Neel said: ‘I would really like to win the race, we have lead about three Feature races before, some right until the last lap and still not won, so obviously I would like to add a Feature race win to my record.

Finishing third in his first race since Dubai, Enrico Toccacello said: ‘We had a great result in Dubai and it’s great to be back in the car now. It is the nature of A1GP to try different drivers and focus on the nation, but I’m really glad to be back driving. We starting improving in Malaysia, and got better in Dubai, and I showed in this race that I am fast. We have a good set up and I’m confident for the next race.’

  A1 Team Driver Time
1 France Alexandre Premat 29.20.743
2 Switzerland Neel Jani 29.21.026
3 Italy Enrico Toccacelo 29.21.617
4 Netherlands Jos Verstappen 29.22.884
5 Czech Republic Tomas Enge 29.34.296
6 USA Bryan Herta 29.40.822
7 Malaysia Alex Yoong 29.43.613
8 Germany Timo Scheider 29.44.100
9 Canada Patrick Capentier 29.46.979
10 Austria Patrick Friesacher 29.47.654
11 Great Britain Robbie Kerr 29.49.444
12 Indonesia Ananda Mikola 29.59.203
13 Lebanon Graham Rahal 30.02.149
14 Brazil Christian Fittipaldi 30.11.492
15 China Tengyi Jiang 30.12.464
16 Australia Christian Jones 30.33.185
17 South Africa Stephen Simpson 9 Laps
18 New Zealand Matt Halliday 4 Laps
19 Portugal Alvaro Parente 4 Laps
20 Japan Hayanari Shimoda 3 Laps
21 Ireland Ralph Firman 0 Laps
22 Mexico Salvador Duran 0 Laps


The second clean start of the weekend meant all the cars made it round the first lap. As is quite often the case, many of the teams pitted early for their mandatory pit stop with race leader France first in and executing a trouble-free stop in 51.3 seconds. Much to the disappointment of the local fans, A1 Team Mexico was not able to take part in the opening laps as their mechanics were still repairing the damage after the Sprint race incident and the leaders completed four laps before Mexico joined the field.

A couple of teams with problems early on as A1 Team Brazil was given a drive through penalty for a false start and A1 Team Canada for speeding in the pit lane. By the end of lap eight, all but one team had pitted and the one still out in front was A1 Team USA with a lead of over 28 seconds. A1 Team Mexico was still suffering as their car was shown a mechanical black flag and pitted at the end of his seventh lap for repairs and retired from the race at the same time as A1 Team Ireland.

While A1 Team France extended its lead there was some good battles going on behind with Switzerland, Germany and Italy involved in one and New Zealand, Austria and the Czech Republic in another.

An incident going into turn one on lap 22 between A1 Teams Indonesia and Australia saw the only safety car period of the race. Indonesia had just passed Australia but the car of Ananada Mikola then speared into the car of Christian Jones which retired there and then while the Indonesian made it round to the pits for a new nose cone.

The safety car pulled in at the end of lap five and the car of A1 Team GBR was able to overtake that of A1 Team Czech Republic. At this point Robbie Kerr still had eight of his PowerBoosts left and over the next few laps he used them to good effect by passing Austria for seventh on lap 28, and then New Zealand for sixth on lap 30.

The battle for seventh spot was a train headed by A1 Team New Zealand with Austria, the Czech Republic and Portugal fractions of a second behind. The winner of the battle was the Czech Republic who got by both Austria and New Zealand before the chequered flag came out to give A1 Team France its thirteenth win of the season.

While only Switzerland has a mathematical chance of beating France to win the first World Cup of Motorsport, it is all to play for between A1 Teams Great Britain and Brazil with them having swapped places again as Robbie Kerr now goes to the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca 3 points ahead of the Brazilians.

‘The race was fun, and the car was quite good,’ said A1 Team France’s Alexandre Premat. ‘We changed quite a lot in the break after the Sprint race. We got the fastest lap as well which is nice. After the safety car it was really close so I had to push quite hard which was difficult with the tyres as I had no grip.’

Commenting on the possibility of A1 Team France winning the first World Cup of Motorsport with team mate Nicolas Lappierre at the wheel, Alexandre said: ‘I don’t mind really. I think he will do a good job, and I think we could win both races.’

Jos Verstappen driving for A1 Team Netherlands said: ‘After France pitted early we were pushing really hard, as were Switzerland I think. But it is difficult to overtake here and we have to be happy with second. This season we have been really good at pit stops and today’s was fantastic too. I think we missed taking the lead by about half a second. It was very close with Alex after the pit stop. We have done really well to finish second, when we came here on Friday it was really difficult for us, and we have got better and better over the weekend.’

Asked why he didn’t use his PowerBoost button at all in the Feature race, Jos replied ‘It didn’t make much difference here. The straight is very short and it is best to concentrate on the first corner rather than looking for the PowerBoost button.’

A1 Team Switzerland’s Neel Jani said: ‘First of all I would like to thank the team, I’ve had a great time this season. The start today was OK, I took second and was able to put pressure on France pretty much straight away. Our pit stop was good too, but in the end we didn’t improve the car enough in between the two races, as the other teams did.’

Commenting on his time racing in A1 Grand Prix, Neel said: ‘In the beginning it is no different, it is like racing for yourself. But after a while you get more into it, and realise you are driving for Switzerland. You start to have a really national feeling, with all the support and ambassadors visiting. It gives you a special feeling to be driving for your country. I’ve had a really nice time driving in A1 Grand Prix and I’ve managed to get lots of podiums. As they say in German, one eye is crying and the other is laughing. I’m sad to leave but looking forward to my next challenge.’

  A1 Team Driver Time Gap first
1 France Alexandre Premat 52.26.709  
2 Netherlands Jos Verstappen 52.27.489 +0.780
3 Switzerland Neel Jani 52.30.234 +3.525
4 Germany Timo Scheider 52.31.297 +4.588
5 Italy Enrico Toccacelo 52.31.703 +4.994
6 Great Britain Robbie Kerr 52.38.211 +11.502
7 Czech Republic Tomas Enge 52.41.549 +14.840
8 New Zealand Matt Halliday 52.45.537 +18.828
9 Austria Patrick Fiesacher 52.45.849 +19.140
10 Portugal Alvaro Parente 52.46.286 +19.577
11 Malaysia Alex Yoong 52.49.709 +23.000
12 Brazil Christian Fittipaldi 52.50.270 +23.561
13 USA Bryan Herta 52.50.585 +23.876
14 Lebanon Graham Rahal 52.52.226 +25.517
15 Canada Patrick Carpentier 52.39.578 1 lap
16 Indonesia Ananda Mikola 53.05.966 1 lap
17 China Tengyi Jiang 53.12.807 1 lap
18 South Africa Stephen Simpson 55.20.794 1 lap
19 Australia Christian Jones 20 laps 16 laps
20 Ireland Ralph Firman 16 laps 20 laps
21 Mexico Salvador Duran 6 laps 30 laps
22 Japan Hayanari Shimoda Did not start  

The bonus point for the fastest race lap of the day went to A1 Team France who recorded a time of 1.21.100 in lap 17 of the Feature race.

Series Points to date – A1 Grand Prix of Nations, Parque Fundidora, Monterrey, Mexico – 26 February 2006

1 France 153
2 Switzerland 121
3 Great Britain 73
4 Brazil 70
5 Netherlands 69
6 New Zealand 64
7 Malaysia 53
8 Portugal 51
9 Ireland 50
10 Canada 44
11 Czech Republic 41
12 Italy 40
13 Australia 37
14 Mexico 28
15 Germany 25
16 South Africa 20
17 USA 20
18 Austria 12
19 Indonesia 10
20 Japan 8
21 China 6
22 Pakistan 4

The tenth round of A1 Grand Prix, the World Cup of Motorsport will be held at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, California, USA on 10 – 12 March 2006.

Reporting by A1GP.com
Alexandre Premat where he spent the weekend, out in front.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Neel Jani (Team Switzerland) tried hard but could not match Premat.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Enrico Toccacelo (team Italy) took third and fifth in the Sprint and Feature races.
(Picture A1GP.com)
After a great qualifying effort race day was a disaster for Stephen Simpson and Team South Africa .
(Picture A1GP.com)
Christian Fittipaldi and Team Brazil were off the pace in both races.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Bryan Herta gave Team USA their best result of the year with sixth in the Sprint Race.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Alex Yoong (Team Malaysia) leading Timo Scheider (Team Germany).
(Picture A1GP.com)
Matt Halliday (Team New Zealand) retired in the Sprint Race.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Robbie Kerr (Team Great Britain) could do no better than sixth in the Feature Race.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Jos Verstappen sprays the champagne after the Sprint Race.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Salvador Duran (Team Mexico) was unable to give the home fans anything to cheer about.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Two of the Monterrey Grid Girls.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Jos Verstappen (Team Netherlands) is challenged by Bryan Herta (Team USA).
(Picture A1GP.com)
Patrick Carpentier (Team Canada) found A1GP to be very competitive.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Thomas Enge (Team Czech Republic) keeps Alvaro Parente (Team Portugal) at bay.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Jos Verstappen kept Alexandre Premat on his toes in the Feature Race.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Neel Jani, Alexandre Premat and Jos Verstappen on the Feature Race podium.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Enrico Toccacelo, Alexandre Premat and Neel Jani on the Sprint Race podium .
(Picture A1GP.com)
It was Neel Jani's last A1GP race of the season.
(Picture A1GP.com)
The Mexican marshalls deal with the aftermath of Hayanari Shimoda's Sprint Race aerobatics.
(Picture A1GP.com)