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The A1 Grand Prix

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  A1 Grand Prix

The A1 Grand Prix

Marvyn H.
October 18, 2005

Here's a technical look at the cars taking part in the A1 Grand Prix Of Nations - keeping in mind that they are all kept to the exact same standards in engines and aerodynamics to level the playing field.

The look of the car itself was inspired by what Sheikh Maktoum regards as a good looking race car. Hey, if you're the boss then they have to listen to you, right?

Also very much at the front of developer's minds was the need for excitement in the sport in the form of overtaking; a problem with cars at high speeds with high downforce. What happens, generally speaking, is a very high volume of dirty air (by dirty air I mean unstable and not unclean) is flung out behind the car generating the high downforce. This means the car immediately behind loses downforce and this in turn makes it very difficult for passing as the vehicle following becomes difficult to handle. What the developers of the A1 GP cars have created is a car that creates a very small pocket of dirty air and at the same time engineered the front wing in a way that would allow close following and therefore a lot of passing to happen throughout a race.

The chassis is made and designed by Lola International and is made up of a core of aluminium honeycomb surrounded by a carbon fibre skin. This results in a one-piece safety cell tub which has proven to be incredibly resistant to twisting (a good thing).

The Vital Statistics: Weight: About 600kg Gearbox: 6-speed sequential with paddle-shift Engine Size: 3.4 litre V8 Valve-Train: 4 OH Cams and 4 valves per cylinder Max Power: 412kW or 520bhp Fuel Tank: 135 litres

Another addition to the cars to create exciting racing is the Powerboost: This is a driver-activated system which boosts the car to it's maximum of 550bhp at the touch of a button. Each driver has a limited number of times he can use this option (about 8 times in a feature race) and once he has activated it it will stay at the boosted power until he lifts his foot off the accelerator. This has to make for some exciting passes and surely some great defensive manoeuvres as well.

Written by the Webmaster of All About All Sport

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