Williams write off Malaysian GP chances

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Despite Pastor Maldonado stating yesterday that Williams were close to finding the solution to the FW35’s problems, the team have failed to make any progress with the car during practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix.

“We haven’t made the progress we had hoped for today,” explained technical director Mike Coughlan. “We need to look at the data we have from both sessions to maximize the package we have. We will then head straight back to the factory to work on some improvements ahead of Shanghai.”

The decision to write off their chances even before qualifying comes after a woeful performance in practice. In the second session, Maldonado could only finish 16th, whilst teammate Valtteri Bottas finished down in 19th behind the Marussia of Jules Bianchi. Although his technical director has little hope for the rest of the weekend, Maldonado is adamant he will keep pushing.

“We didn’t have the pace today unfortunately. We need to analyse the data tonight to see what we can do.

“We have a lot of work to do but we’ll be pushing hard to see what we can achieve tomorrow.”

Bottas, who finished in 14th place on debut in Australia, also acknowledged the need to improve if he is to vindicate his credentials as the new ‘Flying Finn’.

“We hope to find some improvements, but we know we still have a lot of work to do to close the gap.”

Williams will be disappointed with the FW35 after having a strong season in 2012, as they took their first victory in over seven years. They appear to have made a backward step, but if rain does fall in Malaysia, the British-based team could yet score some points this weekend.

Fernando Alonso completes first test with United Autosports

Photo: United Autosports
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Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first outing with United Autosports, with whom he will contest the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, in their Ligier JS P217 LMP2 chassis.

The McLaren Formula 1 driver completed the test at Motorland Aragon in Spain alongside co-driver Phil Hanson, who will be a teammate with Alonso at next year’s 24-hour Daytona enduro. Filipe Albuquerque, a former GT class winner at the Rolex 24, was also on hand to help Alonso and the team ahead of Alonso’s first run in an LMP2 car, which comes only a couple days after he made his LMP1 testing debut with Toyota. Albuquerque races with Mustang Sampling Racing in IMSA, but will return to United’s European Le Mans Series program for all but one race in 2018.

“I had a great first test with United Autosports. Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time,” said Alonso, who will rejoin the team at the official Roar Before the 24 test on January 5-7.

Alonso added, “There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car. I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic. The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”

Team owner Zak Brown, who also serves as executive director of McLaren Technology Group and helps lead the McLaren Formula 1 effort, shared Alonso’s enthusiasm and was not surprised he was able to acclimate himself relatively quickly.

“Fernando’s first test with United Autosports went awesome as expected. He is a world champion and it is a pleasure to have him in our car,” he said of Alonso’s debut with the team.

Alonso is currently schedule to contest the Rolex 24 with the aforementioned Hanson and McLaren test driver Lando Norris.