The first round of the upcoming A1 GP season has been cancelled after a series of delays with the new car forced organisers to pull Mugello from its season opening slot.

Although the car, which is modelled on the Ferrari F2004 Formula One car and also powered by the Italian manufacturer, has undergone thousands of kilometres of testing this year, delays in building the car have now dealt the series a significant blow.

Typified by the crash that placed test driver Patrick Friesacher in hospital with a back injury, the time it took to discover the cause of the accident has also hurt the schedule.

Initially, only the first collective test was cancelled, but now the first round - to have been held in Italy - has been taken off the schedule to allow more time for the teams to receive delivery of the cars.

Nonetheless, A1GP chief executive officer Pete da Silva has played down the setback, adding that it was inevitable it would take time to design, build and engineer a brand new car in less than twelve months.

"It was always going to be an optimistic programme but we were confident we could achieve it. This in no way reflects on the work undertaken by the technical team and our partners, as it was due to circumstances beyond their control. I also want to thank all our technical partners for their support during our intensive testing programme, and especially Ferrari for the supply of engines.

"We now have to concentrate on what we have ahead of us rather than behind. We still have some great announcements to make. In the near future we shall be able to announce our full race calendar, as well as some deals that will enhance the overall package we are presenting to our fans for season four."

The first round of the season will now take place at Zandvoort, Netherlands two weeks later on 4-5 October. It is unknown whether the Mugello round will be moved to a later date.



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