AUTOSPORT International ASI 2014 Live - Saturday
By: Matt Beer, Glenn Freeman, Sam Tremayne
Martin Brundle and John Surtees
That's it from day three of AUTOSPORT International 2014.
The final day features another star-studded guest list, so join us again tomorrow either here at the NEC in Birmingham or on AUTOSPORT Live from 10am to hear from:
Adrian Sutil, Martin Brundle, John Surtees, Allan McNish, Tom Kristensen, the KX Akademy Graduates, Matt Neal, Andrew Jordan, Gordon Sheddon, Rob Austin, Jason Plato, the McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award finalists, Shaun Hollamby, Daniel Welch, Jack Goff, Alex Lynn, Jordan King, Jack Harvey and James Calado.
See you then.
But he admits that such dominance can bring some negatives with it, which played a part in him eventually not completing the season.
"24 wins on the trot was unbelievable. I hoped to fight for the title but I never thought I could win that many.
"However, winning so often can go against you. Towards the end it didn't matter to anyone if I won, it was expected of me.
"I don't think it was doing anything for me, and it made people question the quality in the championship which I don't think was right."
"Kevin did a great job last year, so we're going to try to follow in his footsteps. The goal is to win the championship, and there's no reason someone else can't do what Kevin did and use that to move straight into F1."
Jon Lancaster GP2
Interesting take on the financial situation on the ladder to F1 at the moment from Lancaster, who has always had to scrap to put deals together in his career:
"We all know it's about budget these days, so you have to accept that and work around it.
"You've got to try to make these things happen, so in my case I've had to make a lot of phone calls. To do well after that is a pleasant surprise."
If you haven't made it to AUTOSPORT International 2014 yet, there's still one more chance to do so tomorrow.
The highlight for many show regulars is the Live Action Arena.
This year you can watch another spectacular array of races, stunts and demonstrations, included the added treat of some glorious Formula 1 machinery driving around indoors courtesy of Classic Team Lotus.
The 1978 design that carried Mario Andretti to his dominant world title is among the cars in action.
AUTOSPORT International 2014
Pirelli's racing manager Mario Isola is a man usually found in Formula 1 paddocks around the world. Except not this week. This week he's been in Birmingham talking – predictably – about Pirelli tyres.
Less predictably, he showed AUTOSPORT around the Italian firm's new range of rally tyres that have been launched at the show.
Isola, a volunteer ambulance driver in his spare time (of which he doesn't much), is a big fan of rallying having spent numerous years in the WRC.
Asked if he was happy with how he performed over 2013, Nash - who won the Independents title and finished third overall - says: "Not really - we lacked pace over the year but I had to use that to my advantage and I gained points by being consistent."
"He's basically saying all his points were from reversed-grid," Chilton quips.
"Like I said," Nash retorts, "I knew my disadvantages and made them work for me. I think Andy Priaulx won world championships like that."
James Nash and Tom Chilton
And from the BTCC we switch to the world championship, and former team-mates James Nash and Tom Chilton.
The former has a special gift for Chilton - "what you missed out on last year, the third place trophy in the championship."
Chilton had been third heading into the Macau finale, but dropped to fifth after mistakes and circumstances worked against him.
"Sadly my campaign last year was cut short, but in my half-season I learned so much and really realised BTCC is the best place to be," Cole says.
"This year the realistic target is consistent top 10s and top sixes, and then with the madness the BTCC brings anything can happen. That's the way to be successful."
Robb Holland is similarly bullish: "The goal is to win, we're not here to run at the back.
"We have a long way to go developing the car and we won't have a lot of time to test. But we'd like to be knocking on the door of the top 10 by the end of the year."
Morgan, who enjoyed something of a breakthrough season last year, concludes: "It's a really exciting time for us: I have a lot to learn about developing a car but I'm looking forward to the challenge.
"Our first year was a bit mixed, we had some DNFs and bad results, but we kept improving and hopefully we’ll continue that in 2014."
He admits that's all he's got firmed up for 2014 at the moment, but says an upcoming meeting with Mercedes chief Toto Wolff might help fill his diary a little.
"There are a lot of opportunities out there."
"I don't think I could've done anything more for the season. I didn't make many mistakes. I will look back on 2013 with great fondness.
"I knew it was going to be hard taking a team who were good, but not necessarily title challengers, and trying to get them to that point. I won at round two and we went from strength to strength."
Paffett admits he's having a quieter January than usual as McLaren's rookie signing Kevin Magnussen is hogging the simulator a bit.
Speaking of Magnussen, Paffett said earlier that he has very high expectations of the newcomer:
Paffett: Magnussen will push Button like Hamilton did
Neither Sam Bird nor Gary Paffett has started a grand prix (at least, not yet), but both do essential behind the scenes work with as Mercedes and McLaren F1 development men.
And their achievements in GP2 and DTM also prove how talented they are as racers in their own right.
At AUTOSPORT International you can watch live motorsport in the Live Action Arena, meet the stars of international racing, see the cars and buy an abundance of merchandise and competition products, AND you can get a hands-on taste of it in the Caterham Experience.
A roster of professional drivers is on hand to give show visitors exhilarating passenger rides around an indoor course in Caterham's classic sportscar. Which is more practical than trying to offer the same service with Caterham's F1 car.
@Petter_Solberg: "My visit at the @Autosport_Show is over. If you couldn't make it this weekend, I recommend you go there next year!"
Some are what we would call "fever" (such as looking round from this desk now to remember that John Surtees is stood behind us), others less so.
In the latter category is watching the faces of fans at AUTOSPORT International drop as you open the door to the backstage bunker and they turn round eager to discover which motorsport superstar they can chase for an autograph and picture, but instead just see a journalist on the way to the toilet.
Sorry everyone. It's OK, Jason Plato will be along in a minute.
Lewis Hamilton F1 Mercedes 2013
But what, asks our final guest interviewer, would happen if Lewis Hamilton was in a Red Bull? Would he beat Vettel?
"I can only go along with the result we have seen," Surtees says.
"I can't say Lewis has demonstrated he can do any better than Sebastian has.
"Frankly it would be up to Lewis to prove he can do it."
Brundle is also backing Vettel to prevail, even if Hamilton might have the edge over a single lap.
"Lewis would be fastest overall," he says, "but Vettel would win the championship."
In the meantime, latest clips on the AUTOSPORT YouTube channel include Marussia director Graeme Lowdon and 2014 re-signing Max Chilton on stage shortly earlier this afternoon:
"I have to go along with Sebastian Vettel ," Surtees says.
"Mark Webber is a very good driver but Sebastian has been so dominant, both on and off track.
"I spoke to red Bull and they told me he is always the last driver to leave and the first driver in the factory looking at the next event.
"There are some very good drivers out there but he might be the most complete."
Brundle concurs, adding: "A year ago I would have said Alonso, now it is nip or tuck but I might say Vettel because he would outqualify Alonso."
"It will start with a honeymoon and break down.
"It will help with the fact they are two different characters, but it is almost guaranteed to end in tears.
"There will come a point when they are fighting on track and something will have to give. That is where you have to manage the egos.
"But that is brilliant, it’ll be fun to watch."
And onto the contentious subject of double-points for the final race, which will be implemented for the first time in 2014. Neither Brundle nor Surtees are fans.
"It feels too random to me," Brundle says. "What I don't like is it suggests Abu Dhabi is worth more than a Silverstone or a Monaco.
"If we want to develop for the modern age, a bit like cricket and Twenty 20, we need to think about it carefully. To make one race double points looks too random for me."
Surtees adds: "I don’t like it. Apart from the points Martin made, we have to look at the viability of F1.
"It is quite costly with the new changes and now development will have to stay at the highest level right up until the final race.
"Often teams turn a bit of attention to next year's cars, and I think that is a costly effect - on top of not being fair."
"I think F1 has to stay relevant," Brundle says. "Hybrid technology is dominating the market and it is the way the industry and motorsport is going.
"F1 has to be cutting edge and driving development.
"We mustn't forget we are a show; if we don't entertain people the sport will die. So we have to entertain, but at the same time F1 cannot turn into a spec formula with dinosaur engines."
Surtees meanwhile says he wants more open rules anyway in order to make the championship more appealing to manufacturers.
"I have always advocated that we should have fewer rules in F1 rather than more.
"F1 was always an area for research and development within a global arena. We're into a stage where it is a clean sheet of paper, where the teams have to start afresh.
"I'm sure other people are looking because it is an exciting period."
John Surtees, Martin Brundle
Onto the subject of Vettel's dominance, and Surtees says one man winning shouldn't necessarily be to the sport's detriment. He's also sceptical about 'artificial' efforts to improve the show.
"Vettel and Red Bull have done a fantastic job and you have to applaud the way he has approached it both on and off the track.
"One problem is the sport is always looking to go into new commercial areas and they are trying to bring in factors that provide artificial excitement.
"If one can appreciate the artistry out there, one can get pleasure from that. It's up to the others to beat him.
"In my day you did have a situation where Lotus and the engine manufacturer teams all had a bit of an edge on the rest of us, so there was an element of dominance.
"They were formidable competition. But you didn't have the reliability you do today, with cars now very rarely packing up."
"I remember going there with my father when he had his sidecar, and it had just stopped being an airfield.
"It's in a perfect location, it's a great track and I hope the fans will continue to support it and allow it to prosper."
Richard Phillips, managing director of Silverstone, will be joining shortly too - and we'll be giving away tickets to the 2014 British Grand Prix to the best audience questions for the trio.
Unfortunately the Manxman was too busy selling his brilliant Simpson HANS devices. Good for him, less so for our news pages – but great to see the man who returned to British rallying and scored a Rally GB top 10 in a Fiesta R5 last November.
Everyone points at Plato...
"It probably is me," he admits.
Revenge for Plato as the next question is "can Matt go through a whole race without punting someone off?"
Plato is semi-diplomatic: "I think he could learn to do that..."
Neal admits that "marketing" was the primary consideration in Honda's request for the car switch, but he has no doubt the car can be quick.
"Honda said 'we don't want to do it unless you think you can win in it', and we do."
Rob Austin is also buoyant. His self-run team's Audi took its first win last year and having secured new sponsorship from Exocet, there will be another two-car programme for 2014.
The identity of his team-mate is still unclear.
"It's not a five minute job to put these deals together," says Austin, who was joined by Will Bratt in 2013.
Jason Plato, Andrew Jordan, Matt Neal, Gordon Shedden and Rob Austin walk on still in semi-hysterics over their banter on the way across.
The good news is that they're wearing clothes.
Plato and co traditionally try to make life difficult for AUTOSPORT Stage with KX host Henry Hope-Frost, and joked earlier that they might arrive naked for their afternoon interviews...
The Dan Wheldon Karting Trophy took place at AUTOSPORT International last night.
Organised in memory of and tribute to the 2005 and '11 Indianapolis 500 winner, the event raised funds for the Alzheimers Society.
After three frenetic hours, victory went to the AVAGO team comprising British racers Riki Christodoulou, Sennan Fielding, Sam Morgan, David Sutton and Ross Wylie.
While Chilton admits that "we said the same last year", he is very optimistic that 2014 could be the year the duck is broken, thanks to the reset of the rule changes and the possibility of greater attrition.
"I remember when I was a little kid rolling around on the playroom floor watching this red car winning all the races, and that was Michael Schumacher.
"I never thought five years ago that I would be driving a Ferrari-powered Formula 1 car."
Last year Chilton became the first F1 rookie ever to finish every race in their debut season.
It might not be the sort of record that Sebastian Vettel is setting/shattering, but Chilton says it shouldn't be underestimated.
"It can be equalled, but it can never be beaten."
Why Ferrari doesn’t agree with McLaren F1 fairytale revival
Why Ferrari doesn’t agree with McLaren F1 fairytale revival Why Ferrari doesn’t agree with McLaren F1 fairytale revival
Aston Martin gives Jessica Hawkins first full F1 test outing
Aston Martin gives Jessica Hawkins first full F1 test outing Aston Martin gives Jessica Hawkins first full F1 test outing
The four key concept changes that transformed McLaren's MCL60 F1 car
The four key concept changes that transformed McLaren's MCL60 F1 car The four key concept changes that transformed McLaren's MCL60 F1 car
Quartararo explains Martin India MotoGP overtake ‘frustration’
Quartararo explains Martin India MotoGP overtake ‘frustration’ Quartararo explains Martin India MotoGP overtake ‘frustration’
Why Honda MotoGP team wouldn't block Marc Marquez's exit
Why Honda MotoGP team wouldn't block Marc Marquez's exit Why Honda MotoGP team wouldn't block Marc Marquez's exit
Hamilton: Mercedes needs best ever six months of F1 development to catch Red Bull
Hamilton: Mercedes needs best ever six months of F1 development to catch Red Bull Hamilton: Mercedes needs best ever six months of F1 development to catch Red Bull
Discover how LEGO® Technic™ can reveal the secrets behind F1 engineering
Discover how LEGO® Technic™ can reveal the secrets behind F1 engineering Discover how LEGO® Technic™ can reveal the secrets behind F1 engineering
IndyCar race winner Kirkwood signs extension with Andretti Global
IndyCar race winner Kirkwood signs extension with Andretti Global IndyCar race winner Kirkwood signs extension with Andretti Global