Symonds delighted with Williams’ form and progress

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Williams technical director Pat Symonds has heaped praise upon the team and its drivers following a remarkable turnaround in fortunes over the past year.

This time last season, the British squad had just one point to its name in the constructors’ championship, and would score just four more en route to ninth place in the standings. In 2014, Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa have scored 135 after eleven races, and this figure could yet soar with the team’s strongest circuits yet to come.

For Symonds, the progress that Williams has made since his arrival last July goes beyond anything he could have imagined.

“I obviously knew where I wanted to get the team to, and I still know where I want to get to, and that is a long way further ahead from where we are now,” Symonds told Formula1.com. “But the initial progress is much better than I had expected.

“It’s never one person: what it shows is that there was some quality there, it just needed direction as to how to turn that quality into performance.

“There were other fortunate things as well, not least of which was the Mercedes contract. There is no doubt it is the best power unit in Formula 1 at the moment and I always felt it would be, and it has helped in the renaissance without a doubt.”

Besides the engine, Symonds also feels that the driver line-up of Bottas and Massa is one of the best that he has worked with in Formula 1.

“Of all the years I’ve been in F1, of all the great drivers I’ve worked with, I think I’m lucky this year to have two guys that are right up there, who get on well, who approach their job with intelligence and diligence, who are both very quick and both understand what we are trying to do as a team,” he explained.

“They are very good at driving the team together – that is probably the key reason I am so happy. The team is undergoing change and the drivers are so much part of that, it is helping us no end.”

IndyCar Grand Prix of Alabama final practice report

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Will Power posted the fastest lap in the third practice session for the Grand Prix of Alabama with a speed of 122.953 mph.

Rookie Robert Wickens (122.552 mph) was second fast, foretelling a continuation of his incredible rookie season.

Scott Dixon (122.237), Ryan Hunter-Reay (122.231) and Alexander Rossi (122.106) rounded out the top five.

The practice was interrupted several times for incidents. 

Ed Jones spun off track in turn five after locking up his brakes with 30 minutes remaining in practice three. He was able to drive back to the pits under his own power.

With 20 minutes still on the clock, Jordan King took a trip into the fence after posting a fastest lap of 121.753 mph. He sustained substantial left side damage to his car and came back to the pits on the hook.

“I’m annoyed really,” King said afterward on the live stream at IndyCar.com. “I slightly locked the inside front, then just stayed off onto the grass and that was it. But I wasn’t really even pushing that hard.”

With two minutes remaining, Charlie Kimball lost power and pulled off the track, bringing an end to the practice session.

Dixon also had an off-road excursion.