The sheikh has called in Buchanan Communications to handle media relations and secure international reach and sponsors for the A1 Grand Prix, a winter championship to fill the months when Formula 1 shuts down.
A launch event next month in Dubai has been timed to take place before the start of the Middle East’s first Formula 1 grand prix in Bahrain on 4 April. Approval for the event is being sought from the FIA, the main international governing body for motor sport.
Buchanan will hold the media relations brief until the start of the event, earmarked for September 2005 when the competition is due to start. The PR budget is thought to be in excess of £100,000.
Sheikh Maktoum has already signed what is believed to be one of the largest car deals in history in preparation for the event. At the end of last month 30 specially designed cars were ordered from London company Lola International, which will be powered by a new 3.5 litre engine to be built by Langford Performance Engineering.
Buchanan will be tasked specifically with PR around the unveiling of a prototype of the racing car at the A1 Grand Prix’s launch on 30 March. The event’s other backers are South African businessman Brian Menell and the oil and natural gas entrepreneur Antonio Teixeira.
Sheikh Maktoum has said that he wants at least 24 countries involved either by putting forward teams or alternative venues for the event. While the event will start in Dubai, the Sheikh hopes to extend its reach across the Southern Hemisphere.
The ‘A’ in A1 Grand Prix stands for Asia, Arabia, Africa and Australia, although South America is also being considered as a venue.