A1 Team GB boss John Surtees reports that plans to run both the British and Canadian teams from a central engineering base are slowly coming together, and insists that there will be some continuity for the second season of the A1 Grand Prix series.

Surtees and the other figures behind the British entry took the tough decision to ditch the respected Arden International operation after an indifferent maiden campaign, claiming that Christian Horner's company was struggling to give enough attention to the A1 squad as it was also running its own GP2 entry and Horner was masterminding the Red Bull Racing F1 programme. Now, it is planning to expand its own operation to include the engineering side and take total control of the programme.

"There are a number of reasons [why we didn't win last season], but the important thing in life is not to make excuses," Surtees told Crash.net Radio, "We've got to look inwards and analyse things properly. Last year, we had certain races which were there for the taking - it was no fault of Robbie Kerr's, and I know where I apportion the blame - so it has been a case of looking inwards and making changes for this year, which I hope will ensure that the same mistakes aren't made again.

"Now, we have an amalgamation of the Canadian team and the GB team. The programme is coming together, largely centred around people who worked on the GB car last year; people who were taken on by Arden on short-term contracts and, generally, did a good job for us. We have no complaint with them, and will employ them from a central engineering base this year.

"Other than that, everything else was run by the A1 GB organisation we put together, so there will be no change in that, all that will be identical. The only difference is that there won't be an Arden badge and there is no involvement with them, although many of the personalities are the same."

Talking during a rare test that saw promising youngsters Oliver Jarvis, James Hinchcliffe and Kevin Lacroix test an A1GP car at Pembrey, Surtees also revealed that both his teams would likely run more than one driver in the 2006-07 campaign, and would have considered the option even without its chosen pilots being involved elsewhere.

"Robbie, of course, is involved now in the World Series, the same as Sean McIntosh, so we have to think [in terms of using more than one driver in 2006-07]," he confirmed, "I think, however, that, if we are talking about this formula developing, with each car representing a country, we have to have a small group of drivers available so that we can help them with the development of their careers and not necessarily stand in their way if they get other opportunities of drives."

Despite being named alongside Alex Lloyd in the GB squad, Kerr piloted the British car for every round bar the finale in Shanghai - when Darren Manning took over. With Lloyd no longer part of the programme, both Kerr and Manning look likely to race again next winter, but Surtees won't rule out other drivers being involved.

"We need to have a certain degree of flexibility and we should have more than one driver driving," he maintained, "I can well see, with the new programme in A1 for the coming season - whereby the first practice session of each meeting is for rookie drivers, under the age of 23 and who hasn't driven in A1 before - it will give us the opportunity of giving some of the younger drivers a run-out and see how they compare to the one who is actually designated to drive the car in the race."

Having seen France successfully run Alex Premat and Nicolas Lapierre in alternate meetings, Surtees also undoubtedly has one eye on the tactic as a route to British - or Canadian - triumph.

"From my point of view, I am very happy that it is a driver development programme but, obviously, the British car finishing third last year wasn't entirely satisfactory," he smiled, "We'll also be out to win the series."

 

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