After Austria success, Williams optimistic going into Silverstone

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With Valtteri Bottas earning his inaugural Formula One podium and Felipe Massa coming home fourth, this year’s Austrian Grand Prix will be remembered fondly by Williams.

But the page has been turned and now the team is seeking another big points haul in this weekend’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone, which is a unique creature among the other high-speed circuits in F1 according to head of vehicle performance Rob Smedley.

“It poses a real challenge to the engineers and drivers as we have to set the cars up for such high speed corners like Abbey, Copse and the Maggotts-Becketts complex,” Smedley said. “The car does have to be set up differently from other high speed circuits. The layout has high power and drag sensitivity which should suit our car this season.

“Depending on the temperature, we can suffer from rear tire graining,. However, the hard tire we have for the weekend could also suffer from low-temperature issues which we will have to manage. The weather always plays a huge part in the weekend as it can change from session to session.”

Sunday’s race will also be a milestone for Massa, as it will serve as his 200th Grand Prix start in a career that has been filled with highs and lows – 11 Grand Prix victories, a near-miss in the 2008 World Championship, and a frightening head injury in 2009 at Hungary that nearly cost him his life.

But after joining Williams over the off-season following a long tenure at Ferrari, the Brazilian appears to be having more fun these days – and as his fourth-place result in Austria showed, he’s still capable of putting up good performances.

“Silverstone will be a special race, not just because it is the team’s home race, but also because I shall celebrate my 200th Grand Prix,” he said. “British fans are passionate about Formula One and it will be great to see the support for the team. Silverstone is a very quick track and good downforce is needed.

“I really like the Maggotts-Becketts complex; it’s a really fast part of the track and very important to get right. It will be interesting to see if we can maintain the pace we had in Austria, but the main focus will be on getting some good points.

As for Bottas, he too is optimistic heading into one of F1’s most prestigious events.

“We are hoping for a good result again, but will have to wait and see how the track suits us,” he said. “We are aiming to be strong and to build on the momentum we have coming from Austria.”

Al Unser Jr. to race Pikes Peak Hill Climb for first time in 29 years

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Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. is coming out of retirement to race again.

Unser Jr., who turns 56 on April 19, will compete in the 96th Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on June 24. It will be the first time Unser has raced at Pikes Peak in 29 years, since the 1989 event.

Unser won the Hill Climb and was named “King of the Mountain” in the 1983 event.

Unser said in 2007 that he was retiring from racing and had no plans to race in the future. However, he has taken part since then in some selected vintage racing events.

Speaking of vintage cars, Unser is slated to drive a 1936 Chevrolet Sedan in this year’s Hill Climb, according to race organizers.

He’ll compete with a number of luminaries including eight-time Hill Climb winner Paul Dallenbach; Layne Schranz, who will be competing in his 25th “Race to the Clouds”; 23-time champion Clint Vahsholtz; 25-time Hill Climb competitor David Schmidt II and three-time Climb winner Spencer Steele.

Unser recently returned to IndyCar racing as a consultant with Harding Racing, which is beginning its first full season in the series with Gabby Chaves behind the wheel.