Autosport International 2020 was a blast!
Europe’s premier auto show attracted the biggest names in motorsport to Birmingham (United Kingdom) over the past weekend, including Ferrari Formula One driver Charles Leclerc and McLaren rival Lando Norris.
As always, there was plenty to get excited about at Autosport International. From new products to the latest in motorsport technology and design, Racing Edge immersed ourselves in the very best of autosport for 2020 and beyond.
Traders and the general public enjoyed a host of car reveals, classic car galleries, live racing, product showcasing, esports demos and main stage interviews across four action-packed days at the NEC Arena.
Here are the main talking points from the weekend – and what you might have missed:
Could karting go electric?
Motor racing is getting too expensive. Six-time F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton believes as much having previously said how hard it is for working class families to access the sport. Especially at grassroots level.
Coming from an underprivileged background himself, Hamilton said he wants to see more diversity in motor racing in the future.
One of the major talking points at Autosport International 2020 could address that. Ex-Ferrari and Williams F1 technician Rob Smedley was there to launch his new Electroheads series, which features electric karts. The series aims to make karting a more level playing field and focuses on driver ability over funding.
The competition will be rolled out in the UK across the two youngest karting age groups (Bambino and Cadet) this year.
Smedley said: “As Lewis Hamilton said recently, racing has become too expensive and is not diverse enough. I totally agree. Through electrification we can change that. We will be the driving force to inspire, energize and thrill racers as they climb the ladder. It is cleaner, cheaper, faster and importantly, fairer.”
Ferrari driver Leclerc, who was Sunday’s main guest at Autosport International 2020, has already raced in an electric kart and said it was “very, very fun.”
Formula One: Re-wired?
Change is coming. Formula One will overhaul its regulations in 2021 and organizers have been going to extreme lengths to learn what fans want to see most.
Throughout the 2019 Formula One season, some fans were wired up during races to monitor their excitement levels.
Chief technical officer Pat Symonds said this at Autosport International 2020: "We absolutely are focused on what's good for the sport and what makes a good race. You'd be amazed at the amount of analysis we're doing on that.
"It's even down to things like we have people who are wired up while they watch races, and we look at that galvanic skin response to see their emotions while they're watching races. From that we're starting to understand what are the things that are important.
"The human galvanic skin response refers to changes in the sweat gland activity that reflects the intensity of emotions - so judges properly how excited people are at a specific moment."
Charles Leclerc’s favourite cheese…
No, seriously. The Ferrari driver was asked what his favourite cheese is during a fan Q&A on the main stage at Autosport International 2020.
While Leclerc admitted he isn’t a big cheese fan, he kept his answer effortlessly on brand for the Italian manufacturer: “Parmigiano Reggiano.”
Leclerc spoke on several topics during his Q&A session, from what it is like to have Sebastian Vettel as a team-mate to how he copes with jetlag on the F1 tour. He even guessed how many flies would splatter onto his helmet visor during a race: “Thousands!”
However, there was one topic everyone wanted to hear about. What did it feel like to win in a Ferrari at Monza in front of the Tifosi?
“It gave me chills and made me realize what it's like to be a Ferrari driver," Leclerc said. "I think you really realize that once you win at Monza. You can really see in the eyes of the people the passion that they have for the brand. It’s unbelievable.”
W Series had an amazing impact
Last year saw the first season of W Series, an all-female Formula 3 level racing series. Britain’s Jamie Chadwick was eventually crowned champion after a dramatic final race at Brands Hatch.
With a year of fantastic racing under its belt, W Series hopes to get bigger and better in 2020. W Series CEO Catherine Bond Muir took to the stage at Autosport International 2020 and talked about the impact of the opening season.
“We’re delighted with how it went,” Bond Muir said. “The extraordinary thing was the reception we’ve had from media all over the world. We reached 340 million people through TV. Over five billion people have read about us online and in newspapers. It’s extraordinary what has happened in the space of 12 months from a standing start.”
There will be a familiar face joining W Series in 2020. Prolific GT racer and The Grand Tour test driver Abbie Eaton will enter the single-seater fold. Here is what she had to say:
“I was a little bit skeptical about separating the genders,” Eaton said on stage at Autosport International 2020. “Is it a positive thing long term, is it going to work? There have been other championships in the past where it’s been female only and it’s been a flop. Testament to everyone involved, it’s been a great success. I can put my hands up and say I did get it wrong and that I’m excited to have the opportunity to race this year.”
How cool do the new M-Sport Ford Fiestas look?
Ahead of the 2020 World Rally Championship season, the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team unveiled its exciting new livery at Autosport International 2020 – inspired by those classic early 1990s Ford World Rally cars.
The new blue and white colours are inspired by the 1993 Ford Escort RS Cosworth in which Francois Delecour narrowly missed out on winning the WRC title, as well as the car that gave him 1994 Monte Carlo Rally race victory.
The team raced in blue and silver colours last season but Team Principal Richard Millener said: "We wanted to try and look back a little bit at some of the liveries of the past, but at the same time try and have a bit of a modern feel to it and we have a very good designer internally who came up with it. It's a bit of a mix of everything.
"It's a fresh change, we've had quite similar colours for a couple of years so its something completely different, new team, new start and go from there."
And finally… a new land speed record?
Could we see a new land speed record in 2020? The gang at Bloodhound LSR are now hoping to achieve a supersonic 800mph new land speed record after Ian Warhurst saved the project from extinction in December 2018.
Warhurst was joined by current land speed record holder and driver Andy Green on the main stage at Autosport International 2020.