During a period of relative quiet in the Formula One paddock, stars of the F1 world gathered at the annual Autosport International Show at Birmingham’s NEC over the weekend to chew the fat over all things F1.
Amongst today’s news from the show, Martin Brundle gives his forthright thoughts on the pay driver situation, Marussia complete their driver line-up and McLaren’s test driver talks up Kevin Magnussen’s chances against Jenson Button.
According to former F1 driver and Sky Sports commentator Martin Brundle, F1 needs to become a more cost-effective sport to keep the pay drivers from dominating.
Talking at the Autosport International show over the weekend, Brundle said that drivers who come with substantial financial backing will always have greater power.
The main problem is that they've got to stop it being so expensive to run the cars, so it stops the need for all this cash. When a team like Lotus, the only one to really challenge Red Bull consistently last year, is short of money then something is fundamentally wrong. One way or another, the racing's got to be paid for. Whether it's with Santander following [Fernando] Alonso around, or Vodafone when they had [Lewis] Hamilton and [Jenson] Button for the British market, somewhere it's got to be paid for.
Lotus opted to go for the finances brought in by Pastor Maldonado and Force India jettisoned Paul di Resta to bring in Sergio Perez, who also carries significant funding. It’s a situation Brundle said he’s getting increasingly uncomfortable about.
You can't go racing on fresh air and there's not enough coming in from the organisation. The balance is getting dangerously close to the pay drivers dominating. It's disappointing when you see a driver like Paul di Resta getting booted out of F1 when you know that others are in because they're bringing cash. That's the bit I'm getting uncomfortable with.
McLaren raised more than a few eyebrows when the team announced it would be bringing in relatively unknown driver Kevin Magnussen to replace Sergio Perez towards the end of last season.
Dane Magnussen won the Formula Renault 3.5 series and has been part of McLaren’s young driver development programme.
But according to McLaren test driver Gary Paffett at the Autosport International, Magnussen is just the man the team needs to get the best out of Jenson Button.
What we want to see at McLaren is Jenson to be pushed hard this year. Jenson needs someone quicker than him to push him harder. That's what we saw with Lewis Hamilton in the team.Lewis is one of the best qualifiers on the grid, and he always pushed Jenson past the limit, so Jenson had to work very hard to keep up.
Last year with the drivers quite closely matched there didn't seem to be too much pushing going on in the team and I really think Kevin can bring that. What we've seen of him so far in testing, he is extremely fast.
Marussia have announced an unchanged driver line-up for 2014 after a delighted Max Chilton confirmed he would drive for the team again next year.
Whilst the impressive Jules Bianchi was confirmed some time ago, Chilton had to wait nervously for news of his future. But having set a new F1 rookie record by finishing every race of the season, Chilton’s seat was confirmed at the Autosport International.
I'm so glad to make the announcement. I'm really thankful that Marussia believed in me and gave me a second year. Continuity for me is absolutely key. I did three years in GP2, the first year I learnt well and the second year we pushed on. We could go for poles and wins and the whole atmosphere changed. Hopefully that will happen with Marussia.
Adrian Sutil feels he is under no pressure to match Nico Hulkenberg’s strong performances for the Sauber team in 2014.
Fellow Germans Sutil and Hulkenberg have exchanged places for the forthcoming season with Hulkenberg going to Force India and Sutil going the other way. But whilst Sutil had a relatively quiet campaign, Hulkenberg put himself in the shop window with a string of sparkling drives towards the end of the season.
“Sure, he did a good job," the German told the Autosport International audience, "but I don't see that as pressure. You always get pressure your whole life if you want to achieve anything. I want to have competition, I like it."
Sutil added that joining Sauber provides him not only with a fresh new challenge but has other added advantages of where the team is located.
It's a new step and I needed it after so long with the same team. There are a lot of benefits: it's close to my home in Switzerland, I can speak German there, and it's got one of the best windtunnels, so there's a lot of potential.
Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher remains in the thoughts of the F1 community but his condition remains unchanged, as reported by German newspaper Bild via worldcarfans.com.
Having sustained serious head injuries after a skiing accident in Meribel, France, Schumacher is entering a third week in an induced coma.
Although Schumacher’s wife Corinna urged the media to stay away from the hospital at the start of last week, the paper cited hospital sources that Schumacher remains in a critical condition and is undergoing new brain scans.
"The doctors want to see which areas of the brain are damaged and which are functional," Bild explained. "It is not clear when new official information about his health is expected, but it could take weeks, or even months."