Smedley: Williams has relearned how to be successful

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Williams head of vehicle development Rob Smedley has said that the team has learned how to be successful once again following a difficult few years.

The British team has made a sensational start to the season, ranking fourth in the constructors’ and entering battle with the likes of Ferrari and Red Bull. Such form was unthinkable twelve months ago, at which time the team had just one point to its name.

Smedley even went as far to suggest that the team could challenge Mercedes for victory at the next two races in Belgium and Italy thanks to the high-speed nature of the circuits.

“It’s a possibility,” he said when asked about Williams’ chances of winning one of the next two races.

“As I’ve quite often said, the ambition of the team is to win the world championship, and in order to win the world championship you have to beat everybody. I think we know that the world championship is a little bit one-sided this year, but that doesn’t stop us preparing ourselves for the years to come.

“Running at the front and winning races is something that this team needs to relearn how to do. You saw that once we relearned how to be slick enough to get podiums they kept falling out of the jackpot machine at us.”

Williams has indeed been one of the most impressive teams over the past few races, scoring three podium finishes in the past four grands prix and locking out the front row at the Austrian Grand Prix in June. Now, the focus will be on continuing this at Spa and Monza.

“I’m reasonably confident that our car can go well in both of those races,” Smedley said. “But I’ve said before that we don’t fear anywhere really.”

Al Unser Jr. back in IndyCar after a decade away: ‘Life is very good’

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There’s been somewhat of a hole in Al Unser Jr.’s heart ever since he retired from racing in 2007.

It was a void, something was missing.

But now, after a decade away from racing, Unser has found the right medicine to fill that hole in his heart: he’s back in the racing game again.

No, he’s not driving again (although he does participate occasionally in vintage races), but the two-time Indianapolis 500 (1992 and 1994) winner is definitely back in the IndyCar world.

And he couldn’t be happier.

“For me, it’s a dream come true,” Unser told IndyCar.com. “Since I stepped out of the race car and retired from racing, there’s been something missing from my life, and it’s racing.”

Unser has hooked up with Harding Racing. The team competed in three races last season as a ramp-up for a full 17-race effort this season. While Unser’s official title with the team is “consultant,” he’s involved in so much more.

His main role is as a driving coach to 2015 IndyCar Rookie of the Year Gabby Chaves. But he’s also involved in so many other areas, including helping the team obtain sponsorships and much more.

He then added, “I’m involved in every sense of the word except actually driving the car. And I’m happy about that because I’m too old to drive the car.”

Unser, who won CART championships in 1990 and 1994, is now 55. He’s so involved with his new job that he even moved from his native New Mexico and has relocated to suburban Indianapolis.

Not only is it a new start for Unser, it also is for Chaves. After running all 16 races in 2015 for Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian, he competed in just seven races for Dale Coyne Racing in 2016 and only three races for Harding Racing last season.

But he definitely impressed the team, with a fifth- (Texas) and ninth-place (Indianapolis 500) finish in the first two races and 15th (Pocono) in the team’s final run of the season.

That’s why when Harding Racing decided to go fulltime in 2018, Chaves was their pick for behind the wheel. And Unser was their pick to help guide him to potential stardom in the series.

“(Team owner) Mike Harding is definitely a person that when he decides to do something, he does it right,” Unser told IndyCar.com. “The potential for this organization is through the sky. We’re all working really hard here and we see the potential.”

And as for Unser?

“Life is good, life is very good,” he told IndyCar.com. “We’re back full force, eager and better than ever.”

Click here for the full story about Unser from IndyCar.com.