Good, but not good enough - that is Sir John Surtees' assessment of Great Britain's performance in the maiden season of A1GP, as the team launches its bid for championship glory ahead of the new campaign.

Following an encouraging two-day test at Silverstone at the end of last month in which Team GB set consistently quick lap times, Surtees said he had high expectations for the outfit's second assault on the A1GP title, with a strong driver line-up and dedicated workforce.

"Last season wasn't quite as good as we had hoped," the former Formula One and world motorcycling champion admitted in an interview with "The French team did an extremely good job and were very much up-and-running from the start. They had drivers who were also fully up-to-speed thanks to GP2 whereas our people, like Robbie Kerr, hadn't been competing all year."

Although Kerr may have been a little race-rusty at the start of the campaign having not competed on a regular basis since 2002, the World Series by Renault ace was undoubtedly one of Team GB's greatest assets throughout the inaugural season of A1GP, leading the squad almost single-handedly to seven podiums and third position in the nations' standings.

He will be joined this time around by former Champ Car star Darren Manning, who stood in for Kerr in the last meeting of the year at Shanghai and came away with a second-place finish from the sprint race. With these two on the books, Surtees is confident Team GB's future is in good hands.

"Darren obviously is not a young driver anymore," he explained, "but both he and Robbie have a lot of experience. There are also a number of young drivers we want to try out.

"Oliver Jarvis will run in the rookie test, certainly in the first round at Zandvoort, and hopefully he will come through and support the other two and when they have other activities, stand in for them."

Stressing the importance of nurturing young talent, Surtees said the opportunity to safeguard the future of British motor racing was one of the key things that attracted him to A1GP.

"I have been very involved in recent years in karting programmes for young drivers," he explained, "and I thought A1GP could only help Great Britain's motorsport industry.

"It will reach out to places where previously motorsport has not been looked upon as a premium activity. That will help people who haven't got enormous bags of gold to go along and put themselves in the frame for series' like GP2. It's a chance to widen the market for the sport.

"If I can give the benefit of my experience to it then I can get something out of it as well, in the satisfaction of being able to contribute to and perhaps advance the careers of some of these young British hopefuls."

Team GB was looked after by crack GP2 squad Arden International in 2005-06, but the two went their separate ways earlier this year and the British challenge will now be run entirely in-house, something Surtees considers can only enhance their prospects.

"We are now in the course of coming together for the first time," he said. "We have a new team arrangement structured around very experienced people, and hopefully that will help us to be a little further up the field.

"France is a very strong team; just look at their success across the board. They treat all their formulae with equal importance."

In a sideswipe at Arden, he added: "Last year unfortunately we had a team that didn't treat A1GP with equal importance to their GP2 activities which meant we lost out. This year we have a team of good people, and I see no reason why with just a little bit of luck we shouldn't be that much more competitive."

Hoping to break its duck after a winless 2005-06, Team GB's aim for the forthcoming campaign is clear - nothing less than the championship will do.

"Last year we came close a number of times but close isn't good enough," Surtees vowed. "This time we need be up there at the end."



Loading Comments...