Alonso pushing ahead with 2014 preparations

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Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso is making his final visit of the year to team headquarters in Maranello, and some of that time has included a run in the simulator to get used to how the Scuderia’s 2014 challenger will feel.

According to the team, he came away pleased.

“We managed to get through everything on the program that we had in the pipeline,” he said of his simulator session. “It was nice to be driving again, even if only in a virtual way. We went through a lot of ideas with the engineers.

“We are only at the start of a learning process which is moving forward all the time and it’s nice to be able to contribute to it.”

Dealing with a car that was noticeably down on pace during the second half of the season, Alonso had to use every veteran trick in the book to pull off second in the 2013 drivers’ championship to Sebastian Vettel.

But with the new technical regulations coming into play next year, there’s an opportunity for Ferrari to give their two-time former World Champion a car that can help him fight Vettel all the way through the season.

At a special team lunch this weekend, Alonso urged his crew members on.

“Everyone always expects a lot from us,” he said according to Ferrari’s official web site. “Next year, we will try to do better and I know you are working very hard.

“There are new rules and extra work for all of you, but you can count on maximum effort from us in terms of our physical and mental preparation to be in 100% shape in March for the opening race. We face an important time ahead and so, Forza Ferrari!”

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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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.