A1GP Hits the Water

Algarve, Portugal – Ahead of this weekend’s Vodafone A1GP Algarve action, A1GP drivers took time out to get up close to some of the aquatic residents of Portugal, interacting with dolphins at the Zoomarine Theme Park in Albufeira.

A1 Team Portugal’s Filipe Albuquerque and Armando Parentewere joined by Brazil’s female rookie driver Bia Figueiredo, France’s Nicolas Prost, Italy’s Vitantonio Liuzzi, Malaysia’s Fairuz Fauzy and Aaron Lim, New Zealand’s Earl Bamber and Switzerland’s Neel Jani for this once in a lifetime experience.

After a brief introduction to the park and the conservation work done by Zoomarine the drivers made a quick change into wetsuits and took to the water to get up close and personal to some of the trained bottlenose dolphins. It was a unique way to get to know and interact with these extraordinary ambassadors of the oceans. Located in a beautiful, tranquil environment, hidden away from the main park the drivers had the chance to take part in some of the basic training techniques with the dolphins.

A1 Team Portugal’s Filipe Albuquerque said: “It was another great event with A1GP. The dolphins are amazing animals. Their skin is really nice to touch and it’s great to play with them. They are always interacting with you and don’t forget you which is nice. It’s unbelievable how fast they go from one side of the pool to the other. Every country we go to we see its culture. Here in Portugal we are near the sea so have a lot of dolphins; if you rent a boat you can get dolphins all around you. In Africa we had lions and here the dolphins are traditional. It’s a once in a lifetime moment for anyone.”

The Zoomarine philosophy is based on environmental conservation and education. It believes that by observing and learning directly from species people will come to appreciate wild life, and be more aware of the serious environmental problems that threaten the life on our planet. Zoomarine's conservation efforts and activities can be best seen at the Rehabilitation Centre, where marine species that have washed up along the Algarve coastline injured, in distress, or simply disoriented are treated. The team travel wherever required helping creatures ranging from loggerhead turtles to seals and, if they are unable to help the animal at the scene, they will bring them back to the centre to care for them. This is sometimes for many months, before they are released back into their natural environment.

Zoomarine is one of the Algarve´s biggest attractions. The spectacular presentations include dolphins, seals and sea-lions, tropical birds and birds of prey. Other features include an aquarium, marine life habitats, amusement rides and a set of outdoor swimming pools. There is also a 4D cinema show, aimed at defying senses and raising environmental awareness.

Liuzzi, making his debut for A1 Team Italy this weekend, commented:“It doesn’t compare to driving the car but it was interesting. I’ve seen dolphins before but this was the first time for me to be in the water with them. It was a cool thing to do and they were really friendly so it was a good experience and good fun. Now we have to get focused and think about the racing.”

A1 Team Germany, has also confirmed that Andre Lotterer will take over driving duties from Michael Ammerm├╝ller and made his debut in the series at Vodafone A1GP Algarve, Portugal which takes place 10 – 12 April

A1GP with Dolphins