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John Surtees on the year ahead

The Motor Sport Hall of Fame took me to the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden on January 29 and this year there were four inductees.

f1 drivers  John Surtees on the year ahead

I had the pleasure of presenting the award to John McGuinness, current holder of the lap record for the 37.5 mile Isle of Man Snaefell Mountain Course at a staggering 131mph – faster than the maximum speed of some of the Nortons I rode in the 1950s.

It was good to see Alain Prost on such good form, and interesting to hear Ross Brawn again confirm that fishing was the main thing on his mind at the present time. He has since announced that he has definitely retired from Formula 1. So what could be next, Le Mans and a return to sports cars?

Expectations after Jerez

The F1 test started as was, I think, to be expected. Ten teams made it, which was a good effort if one considers the length of the racing season now and what amounts to a total redesign being required.

Little mileage overall was achieved, with Mercedes and Ferrari engines putting in the most and best performances in this early shakedown test. Renault, considering their reputation for producing superb racing engines, were disappointing, and some midnight oil is certainly being spent prior to the next test in Bahrain.

f1 drivers  John Surtees on the year ahead

Irrespective of it being the first shakedown, it is always nice to be in front. After the dreadful season McLaren had in 2013, by their standards, it will have been nice for Ron and the team to come away at the top of the time sheets with rookie driver Kevin Magnussen. Together with Jenson’s wealth of experience and ability, that is not such a bad driver line-up.

One opinion that seemed to be generally expressed is that whoever framed up the regulations for this year had no eye for aesthetics, and that the cars were all basically ugly. Of course not everyone will agree and you could say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. On the other hand it is also said that what looks right is right.

All change in Formula 3

Formula 3 – so often the launch pad for World Championship drivers’ careers – is all change for this year. It’s not quite as drastic as F1 but there’s still a potential step forward once the initial costs have been absorbed. I know from our own experience that F3 was pricing itself out.

The new regulations call for engines to run a maximum of 10,000 miles with heavy penalties for changes. They will have more power, which at 250bhp is something like a 30bhp increase. This is all being achieved by building an engine specifically for racing rather than have to base it upon a production unit as in the previous formula, and should result in reducing some of those costs.

f1 drivers  John Surtees on the year ahead
2013 British F3 champion Jordan King in last year’s Dallara-Volkswagen

Mercedes and Volkswagen have been joined by Renault and as these units will initially be for racing in the European and Japanese markets you can envisage others joining later. The UK will be an exception and run the old specification engines that worked to a 4000 mile limit.

In my opinion it is important for a car with the performance of a modern F3 racer to be within the British racing programme. I hope that it can survive and get sufficient entries for this year and then take advantage of the hoped for cost reductions that the European F3 is looking to achieve.

April 26-27 Classic Motorcycle Show at Stafford
May 4-5 Donington Historic Festival
May 26 Edenbridge Fun Day – display and run through High Street of cars from original Team Surtees factory site
June Surtees Display of bikes and cars at Mercedes-Benz World, Brooklands
June 27-29 Goodwood Festival of Speed
July 1 Henry Surtees Brooklands Team Challenge kart event at Mercedes-Benz World
October 8 Henry Surtees Challenge kart event at Buckmore Park
November 17-21 Beaujolais Run
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Click here to visit John’s Hall of Fame page

f1 drivers  John Surtees on the year ahead

Add your comments

3 comments on John Surtees on the year ahead

  1. Morris Minor, 7 February 2014 11:11

    Wonderful headline picture Sir John!

    Would you be tempted to try the Morecambe Missile’s 131mph bike around Island this year?

    That would reap the loudest cheers from spectators.

    I’m wondering how modern F3 car’s perform, compared with, say a Formula Junior or even F2 car of the 60′s?

  2. N. Weingart, 11 February 2014 16:22

    Wishing John a merry time on his 80th birthday!

  3. wayne wachtell, 18 February 2014 19:50

    john surtees was one of my favorite drivers and I was happpy when he won the 1964 world driving championship! just read a book I purchased on on line about his motorcycle career before he became involved in motor racing and it was quite impressive!!!!!!!! he was a really great motorcyle racer!

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