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Q&A with Nigel Mansell

NEWS STORY
28/09/2005

1992 World Champion Nigel Mansell, who has signed up to the new Grand Prix Masters series, answer a few questions

What attracted you to the Grand Prix Masters series?
Nigel Mansell: A series like the Grand Prix Masters has been talked about for several years but until now no-one had turned that talking into action. I'm glad they have, because having spoken at length with the organisers I can tell you that the concept is absolutely fantastic. I visited the factory last week to look at the GP Masters car and everything about it is first class. The chassis and engine are really going to shock people when they see and hear them for the first time. It's far better than any Formula One car from the 1980s, for sure, and is exactly the sort of car we drivers dream of! First and foremost it puts the skill factor back into the hands of the driver, not just the car designers and engineers. Just looking at them you can see they have been professionally designed and built and will provide every driver with a level playing field - something that will be a breath of fresh air for motor racing fans the world over.

How will that level playing field manifest itself to fans watching?
NM: Well, the cars are firstly not overly complicated. They have no traction control, for example, which means you can spin if you try too hard and damage your tyres if you are not careful with you driving style. Everything about them is equal, so ride-height and suspensions settings and tyre choice will be dictated by the organisers to ensure that no-one can gain an advantage on anyone else. I think this, more than anything, is what has captured the imagination of all the drivers who are keen to participate.

The format of the race weekend is also very well thought out. We have enough practise time to get the cars well set-up and have a proper qualifying session where we can do as many laps as we like, which is great for the drivers and spectators. It won't be like the current Formula One one-lap qualifying format, which is rubbish if you ask me.

So how do you think you will perform at the inaugural Altech Grand Prix Masters South Africa race on 11th - 13th November?
NM: The first race is really just something that we will all need to get through. Until people see the cars in action I don't think they will understand how quick they will be, which means they are going to be tiring to drive. So fitness will be a major factor in the first race and I think that will play into the hands of drivers who have been racing recently, rather than people like me who haven't raced properly for a decade. I don't think it would be wrong to say I am not one of the favourites to start with.

How important do you think it is to provide entertainment to race fans?
NM: It is the be all and end all. Every GP Masters race will stand out because we will be available for fans, media and sponsors. Accessibility to famous racing drivers has vanished in modern motorsport and Grand Prix Masters will be something tangible, a series that opens up the drivers and cars to everybody. Compared to modern Formula One it will be so different. Everything has been sterilised in Formula One now, the whole thing is controlled too much. Grand Prix Masters drivers have reached the top of the ladder and have nothing left to prove. We can compete without fear of offending anyone.

What will it be like to be racing against one of your biggest rivals Alain Prost again?
NM: Prost will start as the hot favourite, have no doubt. He has been racing a lot recently and I haven't been in a car for a long time. But I like being the underdog. I always was in my Formula One career and I will be again at the start of the Grand Prix Masters on November 13th in Kyalami, South Africa.

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