McLaren test MP4-28 updates before home race

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McLaren conducted a straight-line aerodynamic test at Idiada in Spain to evaluate the latest upgrades to their MP4-28.

The team which won seven races last year have struggled to make an impression in 2013 and are yet to finish a race higher than sixth.

“The only issue with our car is we lack downforce and that is what we are trying to create at the moment,” said managing director Jonathan Neale in a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in.

“We’ve got a range of upgrades for the weekend but we’re not there just testing parts, but testing some fundamental understanding issues as well. We’ll wait and see on Friday afternoon at Silverstone as to what remains on the car for Saturday to know how successful it has been.”

Neale said the team’s goal for their home race is to “get both cars into Q3 and then race hard for good points”.

“It would be great if the guys could get a podium out of it but I think on recent performance that could be quite challenging,” he added.

Following their disappointing start to the year McLaren have faced several questions over whether they will give up on their 2013 programme and channel their efforts into the new regulations for next year. Neale once again downplayed the suggestion:

“The program is, to some extent, fluid. In terms of this year’s car versus next year’s car, we’re still learning a lot. I think that some of the fundamental work that we’ll continue to do beyond the [factory] shutdown is useful into next year, but inevitably once we’re through in to August we will be migrating some resource across in to 2014.”

Williams confirms Kubica and Sirotkin for Abu Dhabi F1 test

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Williams has confirmed that Robert Kubica will enjoy his third Formula 1 test outing with the team at the end-of-season running in Abu Dhabi next week as rumors grow regarding a possible race seat for 2018.

Almost seven years after his last F1 start, Kubica’s remarkable return from severe injuries sustained in a rally accident saw him enjoy two private tests with Renault before completing running with the team in a 2017-spec car in Hungary over the summer.

Reservations over Kubica’s capabilities prompted Renault to pass on giving him a seat, instead opting to hire Carlos Sainz Jr. for next year, only for Williams to become an alternative for the Pole.

Kubica tested a 2014-spec Williams at both Silverstone and the Hungaroring in recent months, and will now sample a 2017 car when he tests at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit next Tuesday and Wednesday.

Kubica will share track time with regular Williams racer Lance Stroll and Russian youngster Sergey Sirotkin, who has worked with Renault over the past two years but also missed out on a 2018 seat.

“Williams Martini Racing is pleased to confirm it will run Robert Kubica and Sergey Sirotkin for the Abu Dhabi Pirelli tire test, alongside current race driver Lance Stroll,” a statement from the team reads.

“The Pirelli tire test will take place over two days at the Yas Marina circuit during the week following the 2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

“On day one Robert Kubica will drive the FW40 in the morning session, before Lance Stroll takes over in the afternoon.

“On day two Sergey Sirotkin will drive in the morning and afternoon sessions before handing over to Robert in the late afternoon.

“The test is aimed at evaluating 2018 candidate tires on behalf of the Formula 1 tire supplier Pirelli.

“Williams is excited to have this opportunity to assess the new tyres across such an interesting range of drivers: Lance, as confirmed race driver for 2018, Robert with his huge experience, and Sergey as a very promising young talent in Formula 1.”

Williams denied earlier this week it has signed Kubica to partner Stroll for 2018, but indications are the deal looks very likely to go ahead, subject to the relevant paperwork and contracts being finalized.