Jani: A1GP title will be harder this year
A1 Team Switzerland racer Neel Jani believes this season’s championship will be even tougher to win than it was in 2008/09. Then, Switzerland and Jani eventually won what was an epic season-long battle with France and New Zealand to take its first World Cup of Motorsport, but Jani believes the level of competitiveness shown at Zandvoort means there will now be more contenders this season and fighting to retain the title will be tougher.
However, he also believes Zandvoort should not be considered as a form guide for the season to come, especially with his Swiss squad looking to bounce back from a disappointing opening event. Jani had a dissatisfying meeting with just four points scored thanks to fifth in the Sprint race. He suffered a retirement due to mechanical difficulties in the Feature.
The 24-year-old argues, due to a combination of factors including the torrential weather, the new dropped scores rule and the fact the teams are still learning all about their new A1GP Powered by Ferrari cars, there will be more teams in title contention this season and the final standings will look nothing like they do now.
“It will harder than last season to win,” Jani told A1GP.com. “Zandvoort showed how competitive and tough the field is now. That was a weekend without some of the runners who are also expected to be championship challengers, including Germany and Great Britain, while Portugal will be much stronger.
“Malaysia was impressive because they were running up the front throughout the weekend – including dry qualifying as well as the wet races.
“There was nothing to complain about at Zandvoort because if you were one of the teams to have a car, then you should have been grateful, but I do think in Chengdu it will all start again from zero. Zandvoort cannot really be taken as too much of a form guide, because it was wet, and there are too many other people still to come in properly and also those who had unexpected problems. So, the first real view of how the championship will unfold will be in Chengdu.
“In the dry, Netherlands and Ireland are probably the strongest, or will be very hard to beat, and France is naturally tough too. I think we have a chance, but it will be very hard.”
Jani added there will be little he can do to prepare for Chengdu – one of several new tracks on the A1GP calendar this season, as well as one of just two that no current A1GP driver has ever driven at before.
“I don’t know if it exists on any computer game but there is nothing I can prepare for, other than to walk the track when we’re there – the classical, old school way! That’s what we did when I was in Zhuhai last year.”