With title rivals France comfortably in control of the point standings, and a new driver taking over behind the wheel of its silver dream machine, Team Switzerland was always facing a far from easy weekend as the A1 Grand Prix series touched down in California, but no-one would have dared predict the crown slipping away so easily.

Heavy rain during the sprint race made the tenth round of the season a difficult one for the drivers, particularly as the rain started just as the cars were lining up on the grid. Swiss newcomer Giorgio Mondini started from 16th place and fought hard to climb to eleventh, but any hope of a points finish was scuppered by a drive-through penalty.

His inexperience in the A1 car also told in the feature race, after he suffered problems with the radio and from excessive vibrations after he flat-spotted one tyre. Mondini came in for a second pit-stop to swap the damaged tyres, but made a rookie mistake and switched off the engine. Restarting him cost valuable time and several positions, leaving the Midland F1 tester unable to take the fight to the French.

"I had terrible luck on my A1 debut," Mondini insisted, "It was worse than I could ever have imagined. But now we take a look into the future and try to fight back in Shanghai at the season final."

Team principal Max Welti was magnanimous in defeat, offering his congratulations to France while promising to get Team Switzerland back to the front at the final round.

"This was a very disappointing race," the former Sauber man said, "Now we shall try to grind out these bad results at the season final in Shanghai. All I want to do now is say congratulations to Team France, as they already clinched the title. It was a pleasure to fight against them throughout the season."



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