by Russell Atkins

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Alan Jones has reflected on what he terms a 'pathetic' season for Team Australia in the 2007/08 A1GP campaign - but looking ahead to the future, the former Formula 1 World Champion predicts bright things indeed.

Australia finished a lowly 17th out of 21 in the title standings in the third season of the nation vs nation series, having notched up a paltry 20 points compared to champion Switzerland's 168. That is four positions lower than the squad finished in both 2005/06 and 2006/07, and fewer than half the points' total garnered in the former. The outfit's best finish was fifth position for John Martin on home turf at Sydney's Eastern Creek Raceway back in February, but elsewhere - Durban perhaps aside - Australia failed to shine.

"We've had a pathetic season!" typically outspoken team chairman Jones told Crash.net Radio. "We started off with another driver (Ian Dyk), but John really impressed us as a rookie.

"He on more than one occasion proved to be the quickest rookie in the rookie sessions, up against some pretty talented people, but since then for one reason or another he just hasn't been able to put it together."

Whilst admitting that he would have liked to have seen Robbie Kerr triumph in both races for home nation Great Britain in the season finale at Brands Hatch earlier this month, the 61-year-old was also effusive in his praise for A1GP, keen to stress that many a big name driver had entered the series with expectations of having things all his own way, only to find it to be rather more of a challenge than that. He also affirmed that he is looking towards the championship's fourth campaign - set to get into gear at Mugello in Italy in late September - with a good deal of enthusiasm.

"We've actually seen a lot of so-called respectful names or people who have achieved things come into A1GP and really have their eyebrows lifted a little bit," the 1980 F1 title-winner underlined. "These things aren't easy cars to drive, and there have been certain people who have come into A1GP who people have thought 'well he'll just dominate, he'll romp home', and quite the contrary - they've had a bit of a hiding.

"I think that's been good for the other people in A1GP to have beaten some of these people that have come in with big names. Already we've seen [Nico] H?lkenberg go out of here to become a Williams test driver, and Neel Jani has done a great job.

"I happen to know for a fact that they've had a lot more enquiries from other nations [for 2008/09] - both to either host races or field teams, and now we'll have the Ferrari engines and more horsepower too. These cars are only going to have something like ten or 20 horsepower less than a Formula 1 car with no electronic aids - I think they're going to be a real drivers' car."

TO LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW IN FULL: CLICK HERE

 

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