McLaren set to carry out aggressive series of upgrades

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Shortly after a dismal Chinese Grand Prix for his team, McLaren racing director Eric Boullier noted that upgrades to the MP4-29 were in the works for not only the next round at Barcelona but for deeper into the European portion of this year’s Formula One schedule.

Today in a team teleconference, Boullier revealed how far the upgrade plan would go by saying they were already mapped out to the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in July.

“Everything is planned already,” he said according to F1’s official website. “Spain will see an interesting upgrade for the car, [while] every race will see an upgrade package.

“The good thing is we have a very, very good rate of development in the wind tunnel, so then it is just up to us to manufacture the parts and bring them on track.”

The next few months will be critical for the team as it tries to pull itself out of its slump, which has not abated since rookie Kevin Magnussen and former World Champion Jenson Button both hit the podium in the season opener in Australia.

In Shanghai, Button and Magnussen were only able to finish 11th and 13th respectively, giving McLaren the worst results among the Mercedes-powered teams.

However, Boullier believes the team is still capable of victory as the season progresses.

“We have to believe we will win a race,” he said. “I think we will be able to keep pushing to bring a very strong and aggressive development for the season.

“I think we put ourselves in a position to fight for a win – maybe not in the first part of the season, but hopefully later.”

Altogether, Boullier is hopeful that 2014 will prove to be a “benchmark year” for the team as it attempts to return to the top after a dreadful 2013 season.

“It should be seen as a year of rebuilding a winning team,” he said.

Kubica, di Resta complete Williams F1 tests in Hungary

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Robert Kubica and Paul di Resta have both completed one-day tests for Williams in a 2014-spec Formula 1 car as part of the team’s evaluation for its 2018 line-up.

Williams is known to be considering a number of drivers to partner Lance Stroll at the team next year, including existing racer Felipe Massa.

Massa is thought to be going up against Kubica and di Resta for the 2018 drive, with the latter duo taking part in a private test at the Hungaroring in Budapest this week to aid the team’s evaluation.

After missing out on a 2018 Renault drive due to lingering questions about his physical condition six years after his rally accident, Kubica tested for Williams at Silverstone last week before getting back behind the wheel of the 2014 FW36 car in Hungary on Tuesday.

Kubica’s test was called “productive” by Williams, with the Pole handing duties over to Mercedes DTM racer di Resta on Wednesday.

Di Resta raced in F1 with Force India between 2010 and 2013 before returning to DTM, but made a surprise return at this year’s Hungarian Grand Prix with Williams when Massa was taken ill. Di Resta impressed on short notice, putting himself in contention for a full-time return to F1 in 2018.

Williams has one of the few remaining seats on offer in F1 for 2018, with Massa’s future known to be in question after a quiet campaign thus far.

The Brazilian had been due to retire from F1 at the end of last year, only for Williams to recall him after Valtteri Bottas’ late move up to Mercedes following Nico Rosberg’s surprise retirement.

Massa has made clear he would like to keep racing in F1 next year, but only if the deal is right and if Williams is determined to keep him.

While Massa, Kubica and di Resta appear to be the three leading contenders for the seat, Williams technical chief Paddy Lowe made clear in Japan there was a “large range” of drivers under consideration.

“You’ve probably seen a number of names that are floating around that we’re looking at, but honestly, the range is almost unlimited,” Lowe said.

“We will consider all ideas. We’re not in a super hurry to do so, and we’ll just make sure we land the best line-up we can.”