A relaunched one-make series is attempting to lift itself out of the plethora of international single-seater championships by offering a prize fund in excess of £1 million.
Auto GP has grown out of the old Euroseries 3000 and can “stand out of the crowd”, according to championship boss Enzo Coloni, the one-time Formula 1 team owner. Coloni believes ¤1.2 million (£1.07million) in prize money, cost-effective budgets and the high performance of the Auto GP’s Lola-Zytek car-engine combination (top) mean it can become a viable alternative to World Series by Renault, the new GP3 category (above) and Formula 2 as a stage in a driver’s progression.
Coloni explained that winning prize money was vital to his career as a driver during the 1970s.
“When I started racing in F3, winning money was the norm,” he said. “For every race I won in 1978 I got the equivalent of £35,000 today. As I wasn’t rich, it allowed me to pay for my racing.”
A budget for a season of Auto GP will be just £340,000. That compares with the £700,000 asked by top World Series teams and the £600,000 budgets being quoted for the inaugural season of GP3 in 2010.
It also compares favourably with the increased cost of a season for the significantly slower Formula 2 category. A budget for F2 next year has risen by £75,000 to £275,000, which is partly the result of a number of performance upgrades to the cars.
Coloni said that his cost-effective budget was a result of Auto GP retaining ownership of the cars, which are the former A1GP Lola-Zyteks used during 2005-08. Drivers will pay for their Auto GP season through the series organisation and then be allocated to a team, although teams will also be able to bring drivers into the championship.
The Auto GP organisers are predicting an influx of big-name teams for next season, although just 18 spots are available on the grid.