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The 'World Cup of Motorsport' is announced

The 'World Cup of Motorsport' is announced

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The 'World Cup of Motorsport' is announced

The 'World Cup of Motorsport' is announced

It was a noble idea that involved a few heavy-hitting names in the driver line-up.

On this day in 2004, A1 Grand Prix was announced as the 'World Cup of Motorsport'. Sadly, it was a championship that only lived a short life.

Launched a year before any racing would take place, A1GP saw all teams competing on a level playing field with a spec Lola chassis, powered by Zytek engines.

The championship would only run for four seasons and, in that final year (2008-2009), the cars were changed to be based on the 2004 Ferrari Formula 1 car, with the series adding 'Powered by Ferrari' to its name.

The championship worked on the basis that its team personnel and drivers had to be from the country they were competing for. Despite this restriction and the short-lived nature of the championship, numerous big names competed.

In season one alone you had the likes of Karun Chandhok [Team India], Will Power and Will Davison [Team Australia], Nelson Piquet Jr and Christian Fittipaldi [Team Brazil], Álvaro Parente [Team Portugal], Neel Jani [Team Switzerland], Scott Speed [Team USA], Jos Verstappen [Team Netherlands] and Adrian Sutil [Team Germany].

Sebastian Vettel also tested for Team Germany, while Lauda Motorsport Management ran the Austrian effort, with Mathias Lauda in the driving seat.

Team Germany won in season two, with Nico Hulkenberg at the wheel for the majority of the races, and Sebastian Buemi [Team Switzerland] and Sergio Perez [Team Mexico] joined a roster of drivers that oozed class.

Originally touted as a championship that had the potential to challenge the might of Formula 1, A1GP rapidly fell out of the public eye and hit financial problems, an issue present from day one that eventually killed off the championship.

A1GP Premieres on the World Stage - A Personal View

The maiden weekend at Brands Hatch was a carnival atmosphere that put F1 to shame. Bright colours, Sky Sports - who at this point had little interest in motorsport - and some very fast, very loud cars. Not to mention the circuit was packed so tightly with fans that movement was not an option.

Stood with my family at the iconic Paddock Hill corner, we were treated to some of the best racing the circuit had seen for decades, and then there was the iconic moment where the Team Italy driver, Enrico Toccacelo, hit the Team Lebanon car of Kalil Beschir, sending it barrel-rolling through the gravel.

Both races on that opening weekend were won by Piquet. At that stage, little did we know the 'unique' path his career would follow.

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