New Zealand has a greater wealth of young motorsport talent bubbling under than Australia – that is the expert view of Alan Jones, the last Aussie to win the Formula 1 World Championship almost 30 years ago.
Jones joined countryman Sir Jack Brabham in lifting the ultimate laurels with Williams in 1980 – making it four drivers' titles for Australia in the 59-year official history of the world championship – but amongst Kiwi racers only Denny Hulme has ever triumphed, 13 years earlier. Moreover, Australian drivers have amassed a total of 26 grand prix victories, to just twelve for their New Zealand counterparts, eight of them courtesy of Hulme.
In direct competition in the nation vs nation A1GP World Cup of Motorsport, however, it is 'Black Beauty' that now invariably holds the edge, with 332 points to the Aussies' 126 since the series' inception back in late 2005, and seven victories and four pole positions to zero on both counts. Team Australia seat-holder Alan Jones reckons that is a state of play that is likely to continue.
“I think it's stronger in New Zealand than in Australia,” the famously outspoken, twelve-time grand prix winner told Kiwi newspaper the Waikato Times
. “It never ceases to amaze me the amount of young talent coming up in New Zealand.
“I think you've got some bloody good young drivers here and in Europe. I think you've got a bigger pool to pick from than we have, quite frankly.”
One of the most exciting of those young guns is undoubtedly A1GP star and GP2 Series rookie Earl Bamber, who at the tender age of just 18 is already attracting the attention of the leading outfits in F1's ante-chamber.
Despite having enjoyed a lengthy spell himself in tin-tops after retiring from single-seaters in 1986 – including nine years in the Australian Touring Car Championship – Jones pins some of the blame for his country's death of young talent making it across the ocean to Europe on the overwhelming glitz, glamour and financial pull of V8 supercars.
“Maybe you concentrate or help them more with their open-wheel racing,” the 62-year-old told his Kiwi interviewer. “You've got Formula Toyota [and] you've got Formula Ford, whereas I think the Australians are a bit pre-occupied with V8s.
“The way you're doing it [in New Zealand] is more conducive [for a driver] to go off to Europe and be an open-wheel driver than what we're doing.”