Gästblogg: Scott Mitchell – An Englishman at Gelleråsen

F1-journalisten Scott Mitchell gästbloggar idag

F1-journalisten Scott Mitchell gästbloggar idag

Idag tänkte jag faktiskt ”slippa” skriva själv. Sen ett knappt år tillbaka bor Autosports F1-reporter Scott Mitchell i Sverige och våra vägar har självklart korsats då vi har ”typ” samma arbetsplats. För en dryg månad sedan gjorde vi även sällskap till Karlskoga och Gelleråsen för att bl a se vår ”kollega” Jacques Villeneuve köra i Porsche Carrera Cup Scandinavia under Kanonloppet-helgen, ett besök som bl a utmynnade i den här artikeln

Jag tänkte att det även kunde vara kul och höra vad en brittisk motorsjournalist tycker om att komma till en svensk racerbana och se den racing som vi i Sverige kan erbjuda.. so here it goes

There are many positive things about working in Formula 1. Moving to a new country one week after the Australian Grand Prix, while still battling the jet lag and having hastily packed up the leftover possessions in my flat in west London, doe not quite make my top 10.

For those who do not know me, my name is Scott Mitchell and I am Autosport’s F1 Reporter. Earlier this year, at the end of March, I followed my Swedish born-and-bred girlfriend Sara as she gave up life in Britain to return home. 

We’ve lived in Stockholm since, but often the nature of travelling for F1 has held me back from properly embracing life here. Maybe my priorities are not quite right, but to have lived here for almost six months and failed to go to a single circuit felt particularly criminal. 

So, in August, the combination of Formula 1’s summer break and a weekend without plans lining up with the Kanonloppet proved too tempting to turn down. Especially as it provided the chance to see part-time F1 commentator and full-time nomad Jacques Villeneuve in a typically odd environment, and see if Swedish royalty – looking at you, Prince Carl Philip – is any good at racing a car.

A quick personal story. When I was a little boy, I watched my dad compete in club rallycross events. He had a love of Mk1 and Mk2 Escorts that’s rubbed off on me (and he was quite good, although I’ll never give him the satisfaction of admitting it). I was hooked and eventually I took up karting, so I could race as well. So, for around 15 years or so, I spent a lot of time all over the United Kingdom, seeing the best and worst of the tracks the country has to offer. And national-level racing remains one of my absolute favourite examples of how good motorsport can be and what it can offer.

That’s what arriving at Karlskoga reminded me off. It looks a very modest venue from the outside, and obviously is lacking the glamorous facilities of some of Britain’s best-funded circuits, but the place is clearly well-maintained and well-organised. I cannot compare it with other Swedish circuits but if this is not the benchmark here then I’m looking forward to finding out what is. 

The circuit itself seems a proper challenge. It’s not a long lap, but has a technical layout and a good degree of undulation too – making nice use of the local landscape. I watched race two from just beyond the start-finish line, mainly so I could have a proper view of the infield section. Run-off? No chance. This isn’t an F1 parking lot. Grass and gravel awaits anyone who makes a mistake.

Between Porsche races on Sunday I was chatting to Villeneuve, who was a huge fan of the final two corners in particular. That’s where I watched race one and it is sort of a hybrid of a double-apex corner and two separate corners, which is the kind of place that so easily catches out a driver. 

You arrive at speed and load up the front-left tyre as the front-right struggles to retain contact with the track, and the cars are moving around under power as the long right tightens slightly into the final hop over the inside kerb. This felt like the best place to see the quality of the individual drivers, and I should also add that the leaders in the Carrera Cup definitely had a bit about them.

I’m impressed by what Porsche is doing in Sweden. National motorsport requires a massive amount of work to be successful. Generally people do not whant to spend a lot of money to race an expensive car in a national championship. From what I saw in August, the Carrera Cup is bucking a bit of a trend. 

I know the Porsche set-up is unique and a superb platform, as I reported on the British series for Autosport for two years. But you still have to make it work, and that’s what Raine Wermelin and his team are doing. If I could get to Mantorp Park this weekend I would be there. It’s a shame to miss out on a chance to see another classic Swedish venue but I’d also be curious to see how the two drivers in particular get on. 

Johan Kristoffersson is a driver I’ve admired from a distance for a long time – maybe it’s the rallycross fan in me, but I would like to be able to see what he does up-close. It’s also quite cool so see Road to Indy star Rasmus Lindh in the guest car. Lindh, runner-up in USF2000 last year, only just missed out on the Indy Pro 2000 (what used to be Star Mazda) title this season. He is on my radar as one of the most promising Swedish single-seater prospects – Linus Lundqvist, last year’s British Formula 3 champion, is another. 

I’ll sign off with a confession. Another reason for wanting to go to Mantorp is to add another circuit to my list. It’s an old Autosport game – who can rack up the most number of tracks – with a few simple rules. Cars have to be on track, the circuit must still be in use as a race venue, and different layouts of the same venue don’t count. 

Thanks to various Autosport roles covering national motorsport, Formula E and now F1, I’m doing quite well. Karlskoga was #45, the Singapore Grand Prix gave me #46. Quite a contrast! And now I’m eyeing getting to 50.

F1 races in Vietnam and Zandvoort will help, but I reckon it would be quite cool to have a circuit in my new home country to hit the half-century. Maybe I can bunk off the Canadian GP and head to Anderstorp for the DTM. 

If you’ve got any suggestions, I’d love to hear them…