A1GP's management has dropped the opening round of the series’ fourth season - which was to have been held at Mugello, Italy, next month - because the development of a new chassis won’t be complete in time. The first round will now start on October 4 at Zandvoort in the Netherlands.

Earlier this year the A1GP made the decision to swap to a brand new chassis to be developed together with Ferrari. However, organizers set a tight schedule with less than 11 months to design, build and test the new car and make sure all the teams received identical machinery. The chassis is based on the design of Ferrari’s highly successful F2004 F1 car but features a number of modifications to meet A1GP regulations. Power comes from a brand new 600hp (450kW) V8 engine and first shakedown testing was held back in May.

In the coming month, A1GP organizers will announce a revised calendar for the 2008/09 season and are considering reinstating the Mugello round further in the season.

The concept of the nation-based A1GP was originally founded by Dubai’s Sheikh Maktoum Hasher back in 2004 and has since undergone a number of changes to its format and regulations. Once the series had received the backing of the FIA in 2005, a management structure including new executive directors was appointed to oversee the sale of franchises for the operation of international teams. This also saw the introduction of changes to original engine specifications, which had now become limited to 4.5L V8s.

In its current form, the A1GP is quickly transforming into a rival to the top forms of motorsport and now represents 22 nations including important emerging markets such as China, India, Indonesia, Lebanon and Pakistan. A1GP has proven so popular in these new markets that organizers are even considering the launch of a new A2GP feeder series in a partnership with Ferrari. The series, currently under development, will provide regional exposure for young, prospective drivers who hope to eventually enter the A1 arena.