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A1 is clearly learning from F1

NEWS STORY
27/11/2007

While F1 fans eagerly await the next test, launch, anything, that brings them that little bit closer to the 2008 season opener in Melbourne, still almost four months away, A1 GP continues to try and woo them, especially at a time of year when there is little else happening.

Critics of the series, and there are many, argue that other than being a one-make formula populated by (seemingly) the entire catalogue of the Red Bull Junior Team, and a couple of ex-F1 'names', A1 lacks the intrigue, glamour and political sniping that makes F1 what it is. Consequently, the series, which often sees the inhabitants of the paddock outnumber the amount of ticket-buying fans in the grandstands, rarely makes it into the news.

That said, as the series celebrated its 50th race in its three-season history last weekend, we finally got to see the first hint that perhaps the A1 boys are learning from their F1 counterparts.

In a procedural balls-up race officials decided - several hours after the second race of the day - that Team Germany (Michael Ammermuller), which had already been demoted from 3rd to 16th in the Sprint Race, having been given a 25s penalty for causing an avoidable collision with Team Canada on the last lap, had subsequently caused further avoidable collisions with Great Britain on lap 19 of the Feature Race and again with the Czech Republic on lap 28. Consequently, Team Germany was excluded from the final Feature race results, despite having finished 13th in the event which had finished several hours earlier.

The decision(s), and the way matters were handled by officials, did not go down well, certainly with Team Germany boss Willi Weber, who, in his day job, manages Michael Schumacher.

Referring to Ammermuller, making his debut in the series, Weber said: "I was very pleased with his first race for our team. He sat in our car for the first time on a race weekend after having tested just once for us nearly 15 months ago. He did a good job and continued to improve his performance between the practice sessions, qualifying and the race.

"Michael has my complete and utter support," he added, referring to later developments. "I'm delighted that he is a member of our team - and, furthermore, he will continue to be so.

"Unfortunately, the Stewards saw the race incident differently and penalised him unusually hard," he continued. "I find it extremely negative that the Sprint Race was assessed differently in light of the main race long after the sprint itself had finished. I also don't understand why we were excluded from the main race, particularly as everybody involved could continue after the collisions, reaching the finish, plus we had already been penalised extremely hard with a drive-through penalty.

"This unusually hard penalty means that we will have to seriously consider how we see our future in this series," he warned.

Speaking after the Sprint Race, Ammermuller said: "I think it was quite fair, it was racing. It's the last lap and everybody wants to be in a position if he is behind and not first. We tried to push a lot and I tried to overtake him on the main straight, but it's quite difficult because you have very good gip on the inside for braking and I tried on the outside but it didn't work. Then on the next corner I was on the inside and I just went as much to the inside as I could and I overtook him. I had a little bit of contact with him but I think it was just normal race overtaking I would say."

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