An appearance from Williams Martini Racing driver Felipe Massa was the highlight of another sell-out day at Autosport International with the Brazilian drawing huge crowds to the Live Action Arena and Autosport Stage.
Driving an historic 1983 Williams-Cosworth FW08C, Massa put on a real spectacle in front of a packed Live Action Arena, sliding the historic racing car out of corners and then burying the throttle on the straights.
The FW08C was provided by Williams Heritage and was campaigned in the 1983 F1 season by Keke Rosberg and Jacques Laffite. It was also the first F1 car driven by legendary driver Ayrton Senna, who begged Williams team founder Frank Williams for a test and got his chance at Donington in July of that year.
“It was a real honour to drive the FW08C today, especially as it was the first car Ayrton ever tested,” Massa told Sky Sports F1 commentator David Croft in the Live Action Arena. “It’s a great car to drive, very easy to control, very easy to go sideways. The engine sounds fantastic.”
Fresh from his drive, Massa hot-footed it to the Autosport Stage for an interview with Henry Hope-Frost. He spoke of his love for the Williams team – “It is a big honour to work for Sir Frank Williams and the rest of the team. We have a great relationship; it is like a family” – and talked of his best memory in F1, winning his home race, the Brazilian Grand Prix, back in 2006.
Thanks to appearances from Massa and Damon Hill OBE, along with a host of exclusive features including the construction of the Williams Martini Racing motorhome next to the Autosport Stage for the first time outside of a racing circuit, this year’s Autosport International has been a huge success with both Saturday and Sunday, the show’s official public days, selling out. Today, all tickets were sold before midday.
Also on the Autosport Stage were BTCC drivers Matt Neal and current champion Gordon Shedden. The duo talked about the pressure of the reintroduction of the Type R, the excitement of the last race of the season – which in Shedden’s opinion showed what touring car racing is all about – and their expectations for 2016.
Elsewhere at Autosport International fans flocked to get up close to a grid of F1 cars more commonly seen at the world’s grand prix circuits. Popular motors from another beloved form of motorsport were celebrated on the eye-catching Rally Feature with displays from both Wales Rally GB and BRC.
In addition, the new Fitness and Preparation area showcased fitness equipment and nutritional products used by the world’s top racing drivers, reinforcing their importance to the motorsport world.