Maldonado and Bottas reflect on difficult day

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Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas have both been left frustrated following Friday’s practice sessions ahead of this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

The Williams drivers have endured a difficult season so far, scoring just a solitary point between them, and although Maldonado showed signs of improved pace during the first session today, the Venezuelan driver has called on the team to up their game.

“It is quite difficult to put a lap together as there is some inconsistency in how the car behaves through different corners, but we will see where we are tomorrow as the track is changing a lot,” he explained. “We weren’t able to improve our time too much this afternoon so we need to work harder to make sure we are better tomorrow.”

Maldonado finished ninth and fourteenth in FP1 and FP2 respectively, ahead of teammate Bottas who could only finish sixteenth and eighteenth at Monza today. The Finn echoed Maldonado’s thoughts, also identifying “inconsistencies” in the pace of the FW35 car.

“It wasn’t an easy day today,” Bottas said. “We had some inconsistencies in the aerodynamics during FP1 and then in FP2 we were missing quite a lot of straight-line speed on my option tire run. We need to look at why that happened as that is why the time doesn’t look so good on the board.”

However, he is pleased that the team appears to be challenging closest-rivals Sauber and Toro Rosso, boding well for the race on Sunday.

“The positive thing today was the long run as we were competitive compared to Toro Rosso and Sauber and I think we can really challenge them in the race this weekend.”

The high-speed nature of the circuit is expected to suit the FW35 car, but Williams will need to up their game if they are to challenge for points in the final European round of the season.

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.”