Grand Prix Masters was a one-make motor racing series featuring retired Formula One drivers. The inaugural (and sole 2005) event, at the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit in South Africa, took place on 11–13 November, but the series folded after a two-race season in 2006.
Grand Prix Masters was modeled on the lucrative seniors tours of golf and tennis. In order to compete, drivers must:
- Have retired from all forms of open wheel racing
- Have competed in (and retired from) F1 for two complete seasons
- Have passed a medical examination
- Be more than 45 years (later 40 in 2006) on 1 January for the season to follow
All participants raced identical open wheel cars, which are based on the 2000 Reynard 2KI Champ Car. The chassis was built by English constructor Delta Motorsport, and was powered by a naturally aspirated, 3.5-litre, 80-degree V8 engine produced by . The engine was based on the Cosworth XB engines previously used in IndyCar racing, and according to the series' organisers, it produced more than 650bhp at 10,400 rpm with over 320 lb⋅ft (434 N⋅m) torque at 7,800 rpm.
In 2007 cars were to have been powered by a Mecachrome 90-degree V8 4.0 litre. It developed 600 bhp (450 kW) and revved to in excess of 9500 rpm.
Gearbox operation was controlled by a contemporary paddle shift arrangement.
Grand Prix Masters promoters boasted that the 650 kg (1433 lb.) cars reach 200 mph (320 km/h). Claiming that the combination of stable aerodynamics and considerably simpler technology (than in use in modern Formula One) better demonstrate driver skill and promoted overtaking, electronic "drivers' aids" (such as traction control, power steering and ABS) were absent, and brakes were made of steel rather than carbon (as in many contemporary single seater race cars) to increase braking distances.
The Grand Prix Masters car first ran in late-September 2005 in the hands of Delta Motorsport Operations Director Simon Dowson. He reported a successful shakedown, despite appearing to sit very high in the car, his helmet appearing to sit level with the top of the roll-over hoop.
In mid-October 2005, Nigel Mansell and René Arnoux tested the car at the Pembrey Circuit in South Wales. 26 October saw the first multi-car test for the series, with Mansell, Andrea de Cesaris, Stefan Johansson, Derek Warwick, Alex Caffi, Hans-Joachim Stuck, Patrick Tambay and Christian Danner running at the Silverstone Circuit in England. De Cesaris was fastest, Danner slowest whilst Tambay crashed.
There were questions surrounding the fitness of the former Formula One stars who ended up competing in the series. Participant Christian Danner questioned the ability of 1980 World Champion Alan Jones and former GP winner Patrick Tambay in particular, given the rapid expansion of these drivers' waistlines since retiring from racing. Jones hit back claiming the only time Danner had seen a Grand Prix podium was when he passed it on the way to the lavatory. Jones' lack of fitness at the first GP Masters event might suggest Danner's assessment had some merit.
The first event, and the only event of the 2005 season, took place at Kyalami in South Africa on 13 November 2005. Nigel Mansell took pole then won after battling hard with Emerson Fittipaldi. Riccardo Patrese was third. Andrea de Cesaris finished fourth after a storming drive, where he pushed past Derek Warwick. Stefan Johansson spun out early on. Jacques Laffite retired with damaged right-front suspension after colliding with René Arnoux. As predicted, Alan Jones proved a disappointment. In practice he was up to ten seconds off the pace of Mansell, before pulling out of the race –- ostensibly due to neck injury. He was replaced by Eliseo Salazar.
|1||5||Nigel Mansell||Team Altech||50:55.154|
|2||7||Emerson Fittipaldi||Team LG||50:55.562||+ 0.408|
|3||6||Riccardo Patrese||Team Goldpfeil||51:15.816||+ 20.662|
|4||22||Andrea de Cesaris||Team Unipart||51:16.854||+ 21.700|
|5||12||Derek Warwick||Team Lixxus||51:17.007||+ 21.853|
|6||14||Hans-Joachim Stuck||Team Phantom||51:18.355||+ 23.201|
|7||11||Christian Danner||Team Unipart||51:19.272||+ 24.118|
|8||17||Eddie Cheever||Team Altech||51:27.359||+ 32.205|
|9||9||Jan Lammers||Team LG||51:27.932||+ 32.778|
|10||8||Eliseo Salazar||Team Altech||51:38.573||+ 43.419|
|11||25||Patrick Tambay||Team Lixxus||52:06.738||+ 1'11.584|
|12||28||René Arnoux||Team Golden Palace||52:07.890||+ 1'12.736|
|Ret||26||Jacques Laffite||Team GMF||43:44.471||17 laps|
|Ret||2||Stefan Johansson||Team Phantom||3:33.040||28 laps|
In January 2006 GP Masters announced it would hold events in the following venues:
- Losail International Circuit (Qatar), April 29
- Autodromo Nazionale Monza (Italy), May 5 (cancelled)
- Silverstone Circuit (United Kingdom), August 13
- Sepang Circuit (Malaysia), October 15 (cancelled)
- Kyalami (South Africa), November 12 (cancelled)
The race scheduled for Monza was cancelled due to noise limits. The Kyalami event would later be cancelled as well. A race at Sepang was a later addition to the calendar, but was also cancelled in the end.
|1||5||Nigel Mansell||Team Altech||52:06.000|
|2||11||Christian Danner||Team LUK||52:06.562||+ 0.562|
|3||35||Eric van de Poele||Team Golden Palace||52:07.174||+ 1.174|
|4||17||Eddie Cheever||Team Altech||52:09.016||+ 3.016|
|5||12||Derek Warwick||Team Lixxus||52:09.420||+ 3.420|
|6||23||Pierluigi Martini||Team Global Logistics||52:11.710||+ 5.710|
|7||9||Jan Lammers||Team LG||52:13.044||+ 7.044|
|8||2||Stefan Johansson||Team Altech||52:14.339||+ 8.339|
|9||4||René Arnoux||Team Golden Palace||52:15.068||+ 9.068|
|10||6||Riccardo Patrese||Team INA||52:15.423||+ 9.423|
|11||27||Patrick Tambay||Team Lixxus||52:21.506||+ 15.506|
|12||7||Emerson Fittipaldi||Team LG||52:35.788||+ 29.788|
|Ret||10||Andrea de Cesaris||Team INA||33:29.621||8 laps|
|Ret||8||Eliseo Salazar||Team Phantom||52:22.127||11 laps|
|Ret||14||Hans-Joachim Stuck||Team Phantom||9:28.882||19 laps|
|1||17||Eddie Cheever||Team GPM||1:01:06.625|
|2||35||Eric van de Poele||Team Golden Palace||1:01:25.302||+ 16.677|
|3||11||Christian Danner||Team LUK||1:01:45.180||+ 36.555|
|4||14||Hans-Joachim Stuck||Team Phantom||1:02:02.139||+ 53.514|
|5||15||Alex Caffi||Team Altech||1:02:11.648||+ 1:03.623|
|6||6||Riccardo Patrese||Team INA||1:02:15.492||+ 1:06.867|
|7||23||Pierluigi Martini||Team Motorola||1:02:54.980||+ 1:46.355|
|8||7||Emerson Fittipaldi||Team LG||1:01:13.217||+ 1 Lap|
|9||4||René Arnoux||Team Golden Palace||1:01:55.250||+ 2 Laps|
|10||10||Andrea de Cesaris||Team INA||1:01:34.298||+ 2 Laps|
|11||27||Patrick Tambay||Team Lixxus||1:01:49.162||+ 3 Laps|
|12||2||Stefan Johansson||Team Virgin Radio||55:22.246||+ 4 Laps|
|Ret||9||Jan Lammers||Team LG||34:44.025||13 laps|
|Ret||8||Eliseo Salazar||Team Phantom||19:30.140||20 laps|
|Ret||12||Derek Warwick||Team Lixxus||5:39.035||26 laps|
|Ret||5||Nigel Mansell||Team Altech||31:44.608||26 Laps|
Three races would be held in 2007, all cancelled due to organiser bankruptcy (see below section):
- Bucharest Ring (Romania), May 20
- Kyalami (South Africa), September 23
- Losail International Circuit (Qatar), November 17
On 18 September 2007, Delta Motorsport, supplier of the GP Masters chassis, announced they were filing a petition with the British High Court to have the GP Masters Operating company placed in liquidation due to non-payment of invoices. Following a hearing on 28 November 2007, the Grand Prix Masters series was officially wound up.
In the first quarter of 2008 Delta Motorsport stated that they intend to re-launch the series under the name F1 Masters using the original car that they manufactured for the GP Masters series.
|Driver||Age in 2005/2006||GP starts||GPM starts||GPM wins||GPM pole positions||GPM fastest laps||Podiums|
|Andrea de Cesaris||48||214||3||0||0||0||0|
|Eric van de Poele||46||29||2||0||0||0||2|
- Delta Motorsport - About Delta Archived 2008-10-06 at the Wayback Machine
- Mecachrome powers the Masters Archived 2007-09-28 at the Wayback Machine
- Video on YouTube
- You Can Go Home Again - AutoWeek Magazine
- http://www.gpmasters.com/news_050506.htm[permanent dead link]
- autosport.com - GP Masters News: Winding up order served on GPM
- autosport.com - GP Masters News: Masters series officially wound up
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-09-10. Retrieved 2008-08-16.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)