Recap – A Look Back at the 2008 A1 Grand Prix at the Sepang International Circuit

Sepang International Circuit hosted the 3rd round of the 2008 A1 Grand Prix season. With a five point lead over A1 Team Ireland, A1 Team Malaysian is no doubt hoping to capitalize on its momentum and do something nobody has yet to achieve in A1GP – winning a race on their own home soil! While Malaysian favorites Alex Yoong and Fairuz Fauzy have led their nation to a total of five A1GP victories, a top-three finish at Sepang has currently eluded the squad despite the team’s competitiveness throughout the previous three seasons of A1GP competition.

When one talks about the most successful driver in A1GP, usually one name stands out. Neel Jani. And he showed exactly why by dominating the Sprint Race from the front to give A1 Team Switzerland its first win of the season. However, he failed to repeat his performance in the Feature Race.

Adam Carroll drove the perfect race from pole position to the chequered flag in the Feature Race to secure A1 Team Ireland’s second win for the season. He completed the perfect race taking the win, pole position and fastest lap to give the team an eight-point lead at the top of the championship.

On the grid before the race is not the most pleasant place to be if you are a racing driver. This is the time where the drivers need a moment for themselves to focus on the task that lies ahead. Not an easy thing to do when the grid is full of guests, journalists, photographers and so many more. A part of being a racing driver is to cope with all the things that weren’t about racing at all, and that’s part of the job. As expected, all the attention went to local driver Fairuz Fauzy, so other drivers such as Filipe Albuquerque (above) managed to find some space to relax and focus before the race.

Albuquerque drove a superb race to claim second for A1 Team Portugal in the Feature Race. There’s nothing in it between him and Adam Carroll. The only difference was that A1 Team Ireland did a good pit stop and they didn’t.

The same orangutan accompanies A1 Team Malaysia wherever they go

The local crowd had high hopes for A1 Team Malaysia to take victory here, especially after Fairuz Fauzy had already claimed the win in the opening race of the season at Zandvoort.

The race started very well for Fairuz. He managed to overtake Daniel Morad of A1 Team Lebanon from the outside after a breathtaking side by side action (above) heading into Turn 1. Before the 1st pitstop window, he was running 3rd and lapping consistently in the same pace as the leaders. But it all fell apart when a communications glitch meant he received a radio call that was from another team to pit. He obliged and pitted only to find out that his pit crew weren’t ready for him. His bemused team sent him straight off, but the time lost cost him a potential podium and dropped him to 14th. Although he fought back to finish 10th, it was a lost opportunity and the home crowd were left disappointed.

Ironically, Fairuz went on a driver parade on a Lotus before the race. As A1GP ceased to exist, Fairuz will be heading back to the Sepang International Circuit next week for the 3rd round of the 2010 Formula 1 season as a Lotus F1 test driver. And if rumours are correct, he will pilot the Lotus on the Friday Practice Session. Nobody would’ve predicted such a thing would happen at that time.

Form follows function. These A1GP cars are very complex and intricately designed. When viewed from a certain angle, all the curves and shapes is a marvel to look at. A black paint job on the A1 Team New Zealand’s car (above) emphasizes it even more. Despite that, every parts of the car spent hours in the wind tunnel, and have their own purposes aerodynamically, not aesthetically. At the end of the day if it looks good, it’s a bonus!

Narain Karthikeyan of A1 Team India blasting through the front straight

Earl Bamber of A1 Team New Zealand after qualifying

A1 Team Mexico’s car being pushed back to the pit after qualifying

A1GP photographer in action

2008 marked A1GP’s final appearance on the world stage. Will we be able to see the cars hit the track again? The answer is probably no. It’s a sad end to a series that started the season with a lot of promises. The economic downturn finally took its toll on the series and sadly it collapsed just before the 2009 season were about to begin.

So, what’s the latest news about the series? If you think you are rich enough to start your own racing series, then good news for you guys. The whole series is up for auction at www.go-dove.com . 20 A1GP cars are up for sale, the Maserati Quattroporte Sport GT Semi-Auto 4 Door and the Ferrari 599GTB Semi-Auto Coupe track safety cars included. Click here for the brochure if you’re interested. Anyone?

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Comments
One Response to “Recap – A Look Back at the 2008 A1 Grand Prix at the Sepang International Circuit”
  1. River says:

    Thanks for contributing. It’s helped me undrsteand the issues.

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