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GP Week : 06-May-2008
“Then you might have too many nations, and it becomes a true World Cup with knock out stages. But that is 10 or 15 years from today. We have to set the foundations.” In a sport which has recently had to come to terms with the ugly side of fanaticism in the form of racism, A1GP manages somehow to maintain a level of peace, decorum and respect between its fans. Far from the norm in motor racing, it is not simply a notion of team against team or driver against driver – but nation against nation. How then, does the championship manage to avoid ugly scenes such as those witnessed at F1 testing in Spain, when members of the crowd picked on the colour of Lewis Hamilton’s skin as a reason for ridicule and abuse? “The fans watch what’s happening: every detail. It goes far beyond nation, and it extends to cultures and religions. We have Muslims, Jews, Catholics, Presbyterians, Anglicans, Protestants … and I have never seen a single argument. Never! “I think we’ve created a great product. These guys have all become friends. They can’t wait for September. Every single team owner comes to every race because we have created a community. That transfers over to the fans. Whether you’re Dutch, British, South African, Swiss, at the end of it all you shake hands and say well done. I think that whole atmosphere starts because at its core you have these great teams.” Teixeira is correct. He has created a great product, and one which somehow transcends national and cultural division to encapsulate every fan. I must admit I have always been cynical of A1, its purpose and its future. But with Ferrari on board, Teixeira at the helm, a paddock filled with committed and determined teams, a future plan for a ladder to the top, and multinational, multicultural grandstands filled with happy, passionate fans … there seems little left to question. A1 is here to stay. And the motorsport world is all the better for it. 34