So tonight I’m sat writing this in the Hilton hotel, across the road from the National Exhibition Centre, after day three of four of Autosport International.
Two weeks into the year, and already so much has happened, including my first visit to a hotel!
I’ve never been to the Autosport show before. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a couple of years now, but I’ve always had to head to university before the show starts, and getting back up to the Midlands from Southampton or Winchester isn’t cheap.
This year, though, my winter break extends to just after the Autosport weekend and, as soon as I knew that, I knew I was doing it.
I applied for media accreditation and, thankfully, got it, which means I have access to all four days at Autosport, can set up meetings with drivers, and get plenty of free tea.
In the run up to the weekend, I had been arranging meetings with a few Formula 3 drivers to kick off our coverage at Read Motorsport, but I went into the weekend mainly hoping to catch drivers when I could.
I didn’t really know what to expect when I arrived. I knew there were a few BTCC announcements, and I had an interview lined up for later in the day, but that was it.
The day started at the Dunlop stand, where AmD were announcing their second driver: Ant Whorton-Eales. I like Ant: he was amazing in Clios last year, and I’m always a fan of drivers moving up a stage when they’ve done fantastically in the season before. I’m glad Ant was able to put together the funding for the BTCC.
Once the announcement was finished and the photos taken, it was time to run back to the media centre to get that article written and up – and to struggle with my terrible phone. Then it was time to run back to the same stand to cover the Motorbase announcement.
I must admit, I was a little surprised by the Motorbase announcement. There had been so many rumours about Jake Hill going to the team – which I later found out did actually have some foundations – that when Luke Davenport was announced as their third driver I was stunned.
I got decent photos for the Motorbase announcement, I thought, and had figured out how to get them from my phone onto my laptop without my memory card (tough times). So running back to the media centre to cover that announcement wasn’t quite as hard.
The second thing I had to do on Thursday was meet with Matt Beer from Autosport. Matt runs the development programme that I as accepted onto the other week, and the one-to-one meeting was just so he could give me some advice and tell me why I was accepted onto the programme. Matt gave me a lot of food for thought, especially with the recent move in terms of covering Formula E, so I’ve got a lot of thinking to do over the next couple of months.
Later on in the day, I had an interview with Rebecca Jackson, who races in all kinds of things and writes about it in the Telegraph. It was an interesting interview, and one I’ve get to write up entirely.
Now, onto Friday. Day two of Autosport and I had some big names planned. The first thing on my to do list when I arrived was to head over the Main Stage, where Clio Cup stars and organisers were being interviewed. I stood in the rather empty audience area listening to Adam Morgan, Will Fewkes and Ant Whorton-Eales being interviewed, and recorded it all to write up later.
It would have been great to hang around afterwards to try and get a one-to-one interview but I had another interview lined up, this one with Lando Norris.
I was very proud of myself when I got the interview with Lando. He’s destined to be one of the stars of the future, so I want to build up a good relationship with him before the Formula 3 season begins. The interview with Lando went well, I thought, and I knew I had at least one decent article out of the 10 minutes he was talking to. Until technical problems struck again, and both the interview and the recording of the Clio Cup interviews was wiped.
Great. Back to the drawing board.
I’ll try and rearrange an interview with Lando at some point. Being the future star that he is, he had a pretty busy schedule so I wasn’t able to speak to him again on the day, but I will get that done at some point.
Tuesday was the first day I managed to get unarranged interviews. The first was with Jake Hill, who I managed to snatch as he was coming off of the Autosport stage. I thought it was weird that Jake hadn’t been signed yet, and I wanted to know the story on that.
Jake was very honest and explained things well – one of my favourite things about Jake in the past has been how easy he is to interview – and he explained to me the situation with Motorbase and how he had almost gotten the seat. It made for a great article.
The second one was with Tom Ingram, who didn’t make for quite as much of an article because Tom didn’t really have much news, but I did get to ask him how he was going to get that consistency that he wanted.
I managed to get the Jake Hill article written before I went to my first meeting as an Autosport Junior.
One of the first things everybody does when they join Autosport is write about club meetings. They can be the most exciting meetings, even though they might not sound like it. Of course, I’m up for taking every opportunity I can, so I went to the meeting to hear the tips and rules for writing about the meetings.
It was interesting, and I’m so excited to get started with the Autosport Programme.
I ended the day speaking to Callum Ilott, one of the Formula 3 drivers in with a shot at the title this season. I asked Callum about himself and what he expects for the season. He’s hoping to take the title this year, but he knows it’s going to be tough competition. I also asked about how he felt about Mick Schumacher joining the team. A lot of people have tipped Schumacher for the title already, and I wanted to know what he thought about that. I also asked about Lance Stroll, because Callum competed against him last year and I wanted to know what Callum thought of his F1 chances.
Both of those made fantastic articles, but I’m looking forward to learning more about Callum over the season.
Today has been less of a busy day, mostly due to being incredibly under-prepared when it came to battery life for my phone and my portable charger. But I still got around to talking to Colin Turkington. After Turkington announced he was leaving BMR (right in the middle of my interview with Callum, might I add), I knew I needed to talk to him about his future in BTCC. Of course, I got a good article out of that one, but it’s a shame that I didn’t manage to get much more out of the day.
So now I’m sat here, watching the Voice for the first time in my life, and getting ready for a good night’s sleep.