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.”

MRTI: Saturday Barber Notebook

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Both the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires and the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires completed their first races of the weekend on Saturday at Barber Motorsports Park.

Indy Lights saw a pair of teammates battle for the win, while a series veteran suffered first lap trouble for the second race in a row.

In Pro Mazda, things were much more straightforward, as a title contender ran away to a dominant win from the pole.

Reports on both series are below.

Indy Lights: O’Ward Withstands Herta Challenge for Race 1 Victory

Lap 1 told the tale for Indy Lights Race 1, as Colton Herta led from the pole, but Pato O’Ward was able to sneak by on the inside entering Turn 5.

O’Ward subsequently had to withstand a race-long challenge from Herta, who kept the gap at less than one second between the two Andretti Autosport affiliated drivers – Herta races under the Andretti Steinbrenner Racing banner – for most of the 30-lap race. But, O’Ward kept Herta at bay to take the win by one-and-a-half seconds at the checkered flag.

This is also O’Ward’s second win in three races in the 2018 season.

Belardi Auto Racing’s Santi Urrutia finished third, followed by Juncos Racing’s Victor Franzoni, and Ryan Norman finished fifth to put three Andretti Autosport affiliated drivers in the Top 5.

Meanwhile, Belardi’s Aaron Telitz endured a second consecutive race in which he failed to complete a lap, after he was collected in a Lap 1, Turn 2 spin with Dalton Kellett. Kellett, who spun on his own, was able to continue despite the contact, but Telitz suffered damage to the right-front suspension, forcing him to retire without completing a lap for the second race in a row.

Results are below. Race 2 rolls off at 1:00 p.m. ET.

 

Pro Mazda: Thompson Roles to Dominant Race 1 Victory

Exclusive Autosport’s Parker Thompson dominated Race 1, leading all 25 laps from the pole on his way to victory. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Race 1 for Pro Mazda was hardly ever in doubt. Polesitter Parker Thompson, who soared to pole with a track record in qualifying, led right from the drop of the green flag to lead all 25 laps on his way to winning Race 1.

Thompson had to withstand a brief challenge from RP Motorsport’s Harrison Scott on a Lap 4 restart – a caution was flown for debris on the front straightaway on Lap 2 – but Thompson immediately began gapping the field again, and the Exclusive Autosport driver won by over five seconds.

Scott came home in second, while BN Racing’s David Malukas, Team Pelfrey’s Andres Gutierrez, and Juncos Racing’s Rinus VeeKay battled for third, with Malukas holding off Gutierrez and VeeKay to take the final spot on the podium.

Results are below. Pro Mazda Race 2 rolls off at 10:50 a.m. ET on Sunday.

 

Check back later for driver quotes.

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