Sports cars: Audi’s new livery; Viper set for Le Mans withdrawal

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There’s one exciting bit of sports car news and one not-so-exciting part to kick off this Tuesday:

  • In Le Mans, Audi has put out its official livery for the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship season. The manufacturer’s new R18 e-tron quattro was paraded through downtown Le Mans with its new white, red and black livery. It had previously been in a stealth black in other teaser shots this winter, after the car itself was first revealed in December.
  • From the bad news department, SRT Viper will not make an encore appearance at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. First reported by Sportscar365.com, the budget was not in play for the V10 ground-pounders to make the trip following low road car sales. This promotes two Ferrari F458 Italias from JMW Motorsport and Team Taisan into the race.
  • Rebellion Racing has confirmed Andrea Belicchi to its 2014 lineup. He’ll join Nico Prost, Nick Heidfeld, Mathias Beche, Dominik Kraihamer and the yet-to-be-officially confirmed Fabio Leimer, the 2013 GP2 champion, in the lineup. Not that there was a chance, but this would remove the hopes of Simona de Silvestro, the Swiss driver who’s contracted to Sauber’s F1 program this year, racing for them at Le Mans.

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.