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The self-styled A1GP World Cup of Motorsport was an ambitious and innovative series that briefly threatened to become a permanent fixture on the racing calendar. Uniquely, it was a contest between nations rather than drivers and other novelties included push-to-pass power boost and the season running in Europe's traditional close season.
Each national team ran a single car and had a high profile figurehead such as Emerson Fittipaldi, John Surtees and Luis Figo – presumably at considerable cost. A ungainly new chassis was commissioned from Lola and was powered by 520bhp (550bhp with power boost) V8 Zytek engines.
Sheikh Maktoum originally announced the idea in 2003 and the series was launched amid much hype at Brands Hatch in September 2005. With a stellar driver line-up of former F1 stars and hungry young comingmen, that inaugural meeting drew an impressive crowd of 46,000 to the Kent circuit. The previously little known Nico Hulkenberg emerged as a future star as Germany won the second title – one of those who benefited from A1GP's profile.
That promise soon turned to stark reality and mounting financial loses forced Maktoum to sell his interests to Tony Teixeira by the end of 2006. Teixeira eventually signed a deal with Ferrari to provide a new chassis and engine for season four. It was hoped that linking with the legendary Italian concern would take the series onto a new level. However, that put further financial strain on the organisation and, after a spate of race cancellations, A1GP closed before the 2009/10 season.