Team principal Katie Clements has admitted that she is optimistic A1 Team GB can ride out the current economic climate despite having lost a major sponsor to the recession.
With uncertainty surrounding not only the team's participation in the rest of season four, but also a lot of motorsport activity around the globe, Clements has revealed that she is now receiving interest from sponsors priced out of costlier series such as Formula One.
A potential title sponsor pulled out of talks just before the start of the season, and the British team has managed only a single major one-race sponsorship deal since. Things have not gone smoothly on the track either, as the team missed the first race of the season because of a delay in the delivery of the standard series chassis by the supplier contracted by A1GP, and has been hampered by technical problems since then. The squad lies tenth in the championship, having finishing third in the three previous seasons.
Clements, however, is bullish about the team's commercial prospects going forward and said that it has been contacted by companies which have been involved in Formula One in the past but are now looking elsewhere. A1GP, she says, is a budget option for would-be sponsors.
“It's been very tough this season,” Clements told BritSport Weekly
, “I'm not worried about the future of the team or the series, but it's going to be tough.
"Going forward, we need to be funded from somewhere. A1GP team budgets are all pretty much the same and have always been well-managed. We've been careful how we have spent money. We are not fully funded yet, but there is lots of interest from sponsors for season five, particularly in the Surfer's Paradise street circuit.”
Team GB's best sponsorship deal this season was a one-race deal with UK leisurewear manufacturer Greeneye for the recent South Africa race, which saw Greeneye branding on the car, and Clements says the company is keen to work together next season too. All this is welcome for the team, which, like other A1GP teams, is yet to make a profit. It still relies on private investment and money from its drivers to keep running - hence the appearance of Dan Clarke at Taupo instead of regular reserve James Winslow - but Clements predicts profits 'in series five or six'.
“We always thought it would take five years to get the ball rolling, and get our fanbase on board,” she insisted.
Clements also believes that this season's deal between A1GP and Ferrari which brought the Scuderia's chassis and engines into the series was 'very positive', and she has similarly welcomed series head Tony Teixiera's plan to run an F1 team alongside A1GP - and promote the championship-winning driver - as 'awesome'.
Team GB will be building up its UK PR push in the lead-up to season finale at Brands Hatch in May and Clements admits that the team has enjoyed 'incredible support, which has come on in leaps and bounds' at home, although she acknowledges there is still a lot to do. However, she recognises that a deal struck with Metro International, whereby the Metro
newspapers – distributed for free in 16 UK cities - extensively covers the series, has been important in building the team's UK profile.