Photo: Williams F1 Team

Special tradition continues on Williams’ new FW36

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It may be a new era for Formula One and a new car for Williams, but the Grove-based squad continues to honor two very important figures from their team’s proud history.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the death of three-time World Champion Ayrton Senna, who lost his life in an accident during the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix while driving for Williams.

Since that dark day, every Williams Formula One car has featured Senna’s famous “S” logo somewhere on it to remember him. And so it goes with their 2014 challenger, the FW36…

Additionally, the other side of the nose features a separate tribute to Lady Virginia Williams, the wife of team founder Sir Frank Williams, who passed away last March after battling cancer for several years. As Sir Frank himself said last May about Senna and “Ginny,” “we as a team want them to be the first to cross the finish line in every race Williams takes part in.”

The Mercedes-powered FW36, decked out in Williams’ “heritage blue” testing livery, made its debut by rolling out of the Jerez garage late in today’s opening day of Formula One preseason testing with second-year driver Valtteri Bottas behind the wheel.

His new Williams teammate, veteran Felipe Massa, is scheduled to be in the car for the last two days of the session on Thursday and Friday.

After a couple of installation laps, Bottas logged a timed lap in the FW36 at 1 minute, 30.082 seconds before today’s testing came to a close.

On a relatively quiet afternoon of action, that was good for third on the time charts behind Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen (1:27.104, 31 laps) and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton (1:27.820, 18 laps), who crashed in the team’s new W05 car after a front wing failure.

In a team-issued Q-and-A to coincide with today’s launch, deputy team principal Claire Williams was very clear about her team’s goals following a dreadful 2013 that only saw them garner five points – four of them coming from Bottas’ eighth-place finish at the United States Grand Prix.

“We have to make progress,” she said. “I think that’s the single most important message for this year. We finished ninth in the [constructors’] championship last year and that was disappointing for everybody at Grove.

“We all know we have to do better. There is no alternative.”

Sainz airlifted to hospital following practice crash

xxxx during final practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on October 10, 2015 in Sochi, Russia.
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Carlos Sainz Jr. has been airlifted to hospital after a big crash during the final free practice session for the Russian Grand Prix on Saturday morning.

Under braking at turn 13, Sainz lost the backend of his Toro Rosso car, causing him to hit the left-hand wall before slamming into the TecPro barrier at the end of the run-off area.

The session was immediately red flagged as medical crews tended to Sainz, taking 20 minutes to extricate him from the Toro Rosso car due to how it had pitched under the barrier.

FIA media delegate Matteo Bonciani told reporters: “The driver is conscious and is still in the process of being extricated. When we know something, we will let you know.”

After being extricated from the car, Sainz was taken away on a stretcher before being placed in an ambulance, giving a thumbs up to let fans know that he was okay. He is also reported to have been talking to doctors in the medical centre after the crash.

Sainz has now been airlifted to hospital for further checks, and is set to miss qualifying later today, with Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost telling BBC Sport: “To sit him in the car immediately seems a bit risky, but we will wait and see.”

The damage caused to the TecPro barrier has also caused the planned GP3 race to be cancelled, giving the track workers time to carry out repairs ahead of the F1 qualifying session later today.

Qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 8am ET on Saturday.

Rosberg tops shortened FP3 in Russia after Sainz crash

SOCHI, RUSSIA - OCTOBER 09:  Nico Rosberg of Germany and Mercedes GP drives during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on October 9, 2015 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
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Nico Rosberg set the pace in final practice for the Russian Grand Prix on Saturday morning as the session was called early following a heavy crash for Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz Jr.

With 25 minutes remaining, the session was stopped when Sainz slammed into the wall at turn 13, pitching in under the TecPro barrier at the fastest point of the circuit.

A loss of power on the car meant that Toro Rosso could not make contact with its driver, causing concern as the medical crew was sent to the crash site to tend to Sainz.

Replays showed that Spaniard lost the back-end of his car under braking coming into turn 13, causing him to hit the wall on the left-hand side of the track before travelling down the track and into the wall at the end of the high-speed straight.

After being extricated from the car, Sainz was shown on TV cameras to be moving around on a stretcher, giving a thumbs up before being placed into an ambulance.

“The driver is conscious and is still in the process of being extricated,” FIA media chief Matteo Bonciani told reporters. “When we know something, we will let you know.”

Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost added: “As far as I am informed, he is conscious. He is now with the doctor. I think that he is so far okay.”

With qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix due to start in just two hours’ time, it is unlikely that Sainz will be able to take part in the session, with Tost believing it to be “too risky”.

The amount of damage caused to the barrier could also result in delays across the course of Saturday’s running, with GP3 scheduled to race before the F1 qualifying session. The early sunset in Sochi could also cause problems towards the end of the day.