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.”

SMP Racing unveils BR1 LMP1 car in Bahrain ahead of WEC entry

SMP Racing
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SMP Racing has publicly unveiled its new BR1 LMP1 car that will enter the FIA World Endurance Championship from 2018.

SMP Racing opted to pull out of racing full-time in the WEC for 2017 in order to focus on its preparations for an LMP1 entry the following year, with the decision being taken long in advance of Porsche’s exit announcement.

Officials from the Russian-backed SMP Racing, as well as drivers including recent IndyCar racer Mikhail Aleshin (sporting a broken arm in a sling), Vitaly Petrov and Sergey Sirotkin were all on hand to unveil the car on Friday in the Bahrain International Circuit paddock ahead of this weekend’s WEC finale.

The BR Engineering BR1 features a Dallara chassis and an AER engine, and has completed over 2,000 km in private testing, with further running set to be completed in the coming weeks.

SMP Racing plans to field two cars in the WEC’s LMP1 class next year, and is keen to get as many Russian drivers as possible in the seats from its wide pool of talent.

Even with Porsche’s departure from LMP1, the class is set to feature a bigger field thanks to the increased number of privateers moving up, with Toyota set to remain the sole manufacturer in the class.