Slow but steady progress for Williams

Leave a comment

After a terrible start to the 2013 season, Williams appear to have made some progress with their first major upgrade package during practice for the Spanish Grand Prix.

Although the results were by no means spectacular, both Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas appear to be tentatively optimistic about the progress made during the three week break.

“We’ve been working on different set-ups today and testing a number of new parts on each car,” explained 2012 race winner Maldonado. “We feel a little more positive, but we will analyse everything we tested today and hope to show the improvements in qualifying tomorrow.”

Bottas, one of five drivers to be racing at the Circuit de Catalunya for the first time in F1, was hampered like many by the wet weather in FP1, but he is pleased with how the car felt once the track had dried out for second practice.

“It was an interesting day for us,” Bottas said. “Unfortunately the weather wasn’t quite right in the first session, but this was the same for everyone. We were trying different parts on the car today, particularly in the second session, so we have a lot of data to analyse tonight to work out the best set-up for tomorrow. The initial feeling is that we are starting to take steps forward.”

Williams’ start to the season has been unspectacular, failing to score in the opening four races, but if the upgrades do greatly improve the performance of the FW35, this pointless streak could come to an end in Spain this weekend.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.