Last weekend’s Auto GP World Series finale at Estoril marked a disappointing end to the 2014 season for the beleaguered single-seater category.
At this time of transition where we are seeing some championships flourish and others fail, Auto GP is beginning to slide deeper into the latter category.
The inability to stay on the full season WTCC support programme after 2012; the introduction of the new car and its associated costs; a small and undersold media package and a less than superb reputation have all caused numbers to drop somewhat in recent seasons.
The rounds at Monza and Imola enjoyed the largest grids, but even they only attracted thirteen entries apiece, while only ten visited Estoril. The money demanded for drives did drop in some cases this season, but only because teams were struggling to sell drives to bring some money into play.
The series has the smell of death that followed the Euroseries Formula 3000 category in 2009, which Auto GP would eventually take over.
In the wider world of motorsport, there is not a huge amount of sympathy for Auto GP. While the cars are very good machines, the series is generally viewed as one that merely subtracts from existing championships, rather than one that can build foundations for careers.
The prize money on offer is a nice touch – and one which go a long way to help drivers up the ladder – but it does little to realistically push a driver into the wider consciousness.
When a driver wins a title, the first question that should be asked is “Who did they beat?” Although Kimiya Sato thoroughly deserves congratulations for winning the Auto GP title, it is not a crown that will be looked upon as a game changer in his career.