Williams F1 Team have endured another difficult Friday practice today in preparation for the Chinese Grand Prix, as the team and its drivers continue to struggle with the FW35 car.
“I feel we have moved a little bit forward since Malaysia,” explained Valtteri Bottas in a team statement. “We’ll see tomorrow where we are compared to the others in qualifying set-up. We need to work hard to maximize what we have here.”
Bottas finished eleventh in the Malaysian Grand Prix, which currently stands as the team’s best result in 2013. His teammate, Pastor Maldonado, has failed to finish a race so far this season, and the Venezuelan was far from pleased with his Friday running.
“We will see tomorrow in qualifying what steps we have made as it’s too early to say. The car felt like we had made some improvements during FP1, but we struggled this afternoon so we need to analyse the data to see how best to move forward.”
Furthering the drivers’ complaints, technical director Mike Coughlan said that he was not expecting an improvement in fortunes on Saturday.
“Long run tyre degradation looks like it will make things difficult in the race, but we’ll look at the data tonight to see what we can do. We feel we are moving in the right direction but there is still a long way to go and we now need to bring performance.”
It would seem that a realistic target for the team would be to make it into Q2 on Saturday, and perhaps challenge for the small points in the race on Sunday. If they can break their duck, it will certainly settle any nerves ahead of the European season.
MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. The 2017 season behind the wheel was better for Ed Carpenter than either of the last two years, but still wasn’t ideal results-wise in his six oval starts.
Ed Carpenter, No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
- 2016: 25th Place (5 Starts), Best Finish 18th, Best Start 5th, 0 Top-5, 0 Top-10, 1 Lap Led, 11.2 Avg. Start, 21.8 Avg. Finish
- 2017: 22nd Place (6 Starts), Best Finish 7th, Best Start 2nd, 0 Top-5, 1 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 11.3 Avg. Start, 12.3 Avg. Finish
Ed Carpenter’s 2017 season was largely one of frustration, both behind the wheel and as a team owner.
While a respectable turnaround in results occurred – Carpenter finished between seventh and 12th in five of his six oval races after a nightmare season of ending 18th or worse in each of his 2016 starts – this is still not what he sets out to strive for in the races he does. Lost opportunities loomed larger than any official result he or the Ed Carpenter Racing team achieved.
Carpenter and new teammate JR Hildebrand, in for the departed Josef Newgarden, dominated preseason testing in Phoenix but Hildebrand could only muster third in the race, Carpenter a season-best seventh. Then at Indianapolis, Carpenter (second) and Hildebrand (sixth) flew the flag for Chevrolet in qualifying and practice pace, but they fell to 11th and 16th on race day owing to a front-wing change and late-race penalty for passing before a restart.
Both drivers got collected in incidents at Texas. Hildebrand qualified and finished a season-best second in Iowa but that result came only after the ECR crew rebuilt his car from a crash in practice. Then Carpenter had a practice crash in Pocono and despite a rapid rebuild, they missed the clock to qualify by mere minutes and were unable to do so. Carpenter’s spin on a slick Gateway track at the start of the race sent him over Will Power’s nose assembly in one of the scarier looking incidents of the year, although fortunately he was OK.
In a similar refrain as we often write, it’s not that Carpenter’s lost his ability to drive and he remains one of the series’ savviest and smartest people in the paddock. There have been a lot of extenuating circumstances of late, and it almost felt as though this team had “empty nest” components. Since September, Carpenter has had to secure his team’s future with a move away from its Speedway, Ind. shop, line up Spencer Pigot for a full-time drive replacing Hildebrand in the No. 21 car, find a new road/street course driver in the No. 20 car, and manage both driving and owning himself.