Williams optimistic of Spanish Grand Prix gains

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Williams have high hopes for the upgrade package they plan to introduce at this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.

It’s been a disappointing start to the season for the team and drivers Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas as the FW35 has failed to build on the promise shown by its predecessor. Four races in, the team are yet to get their first points on the board.

From an early stage in the season the team targeted the Spanish race as the venue for a big push on car development. Chief race engineer Xevi Pujolar believes they will make gains at the Circuit de Catalunya:

“We are working with a package for Spain and we expect it to be better. But we cannot say how much,” he said.

Pujolar added the early signs were encouraging as previous changes they have made to the car have produced the desired effect:

“At the moment we think that it’s going in the right direction, even though it is not going as fast as we would like. But all the parts we brought to the car we’ve run them, so that’s good.”

Williams won the Spanish Grand Prix last year. But it was a bittersweet weekend for the team as a fire swept through the garage as they celebrated the result, injuring several mechanics who bravely fought the flames.

Hamilton: Abu Dhabi ‘the last race with good-looking cars’ in F1

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Lewis Hamilton believes that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered as the last race with good-looking Formula 1 cars ahead of the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection for next year.

Officials from the FIA and F1 Strategy Group confirmed earlier this year that the Halo would be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season in a bid to improve safety standards, with the deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi putting head protection high on the agenda for the series’ chiefs.

Hamilton has long made his opposition to the Halo clear, believing it will ruin the look of F1 cars, and echoed his thoughts ahead of the final Halo-less race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

“It’s the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It’s the last race where the cars will look good,” Hamilton said.

“I think next year, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how they look.

“But safety will go up at least, and maybe it could be successful in some way.”

Hamilton’s F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel was less bothered about the change, believing the field will adjust and move on.

“The cars will look different next year. Everything I’ve seen so far looks different, but on the other hand it is something we all get used to,” Vettel said.

“But no doubt the cars look better now, but we’ll get used to it, and we’ll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal.”

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shared Vettel’s view, saying: “I don’t think it’s gonna be as dramatic as most people make it out to be.”