GP Masters postponed until 2006

Ex-F1 drivers forced to wait as new single-seater series changes tack

Plans are still alive for the creation of a one-make single-seater championship for grand prix stars of the past despite a decision to postpone the introduction of the series.

Grand Prix Masters was due to kick-off during the winter of 2005-06 with races in South Africa and in the Middle East. Former world champion Alan Jones had signed up to take part, as had fellow F1 old boys Johnny Herbert, René Arnoux, Stefan Johansson and Christian Danner. But they will now have to wait until later next year to race the Zytek chassis, which is powered by a 600bhp 3.6-litre V8.

Scott Poulter, the founder of GP Masters, denied that a financial shortfall will force the cancellation of the concept. He is now focusing on a relaunch based at European circuits in 2006.

"There are two reasons for the postponement," Poulter said. "The main interest was emanating from Europe, which is understandable, so rolling it out as a winter series was impossible with a European bias because of the weather. Also, it became clear that to create a quality programme we would need a longer lead-in time."

More former F1 aces, including one other world champion, are said to be in discussion with GP Masters, which has been influenced by the huge success of senior tours in golf and tennis.

If GP Masters does make it onto the tracks, it will be the first time that full grids of former grand prix drivers have been lured to take part in a bespoke single-seater series. The best example of past masters returning to do battle is a one-off event held in 1984 to mark the opening of the Nürburgring's new grand prix circuit. A grid of F1 drivers past and present, including the likes of Sir Stirling Moss, Sir Jack Brabham, Niki Lauda and Alain Prost raced identical Mercedes 190Es. They were all upstaged by an F1 newcomer: Ayrton Senna.