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Williams F1 ends first Barcelona test early due to car damage

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Williams has confirmed that it will take no part in the final day of the first Formula 1 pre-season test in Barcelona due to damage sustained to its FW40 car on Wednesday.

Williams was forced to curtail its running early on both Tuesday and Wednesday following incidents involving 18-year-old rookie Lance Stroll, who steps up to F1 from Formula 3 in 2017.

Stroll hit the wall on his 99th lap on Wednesday, causing damage to his car that has forced Williams to sit out Thursday’s running on safety grounds.

“Following a thorough inspection overnight some damage to the FW40 chassis was discovered and therefore, on safety grounds, the team will not run the car today,” a spokesperson from Williams confirmed.

“A second chassis will be prepared at track this afternoon, as originally planned, with the team aiming to be back on track for the second test next week starting on Tuesday 7 March.”

Stroll split running with teammate Felipe Massa in Barcelona, the Brazilian completing 103 laps on Monday before handing the reins of the car over to the youngster.

The Barcelona test was not Stroll’s first run in an F1 car, with the Canadian enjoying an extensive private testing program with a 2014-spec Williams through 2016 in order to prepare for his rookie season.

The crashes have raised concerns in some quarters about his readiness for F1, having just three seasons of single-seater racing under his belt from F3 and Formula 4.

Three-time world champion Lewis Hamilton said he feels that Stroll has joined F1 at the toughest time, with the 2017-spec cars being more difficult to drive than their predecessors.

“I feel for him in the sense that it’s the toughest year to come into Formula 1, being in the fastest cars and the most physical cars, with such a short amount of testing,” Hamilton said.

“I know he’s been driving around the world testing in the Williams, so he’s definitely had more preparation time than any other driver coming in would have had.

“But it’s to be expected. It’s not an easy car to drive at all. It’s so much faster, so much faster through the corners. Precision is even more important than in the past. Last year’s car is easy compared to this year’s car. I love that point. I do really like and I’m really happy about that.

“But these are only the first days. You can’t just jump in and drive from no experience at all to being consistent and not spin. That’s to be expected. It’s actually good for him to go through this now, rather than at the first race.”

Hamilton, Red Bull teammates both go to NASA before USGP

Photo: Red Bull Content Pool
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One of the more intriguing United States Grand Prix adventures occurred on Wednesday, as both Lewis Hamilton and the pair of Red Bull Racing teammates, Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, all went to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston – in separate sessions – before heading onto Austin.

Hamilton posted on his Instagram story on Wednesday that he’d “quit his day job in a second” to work at NASA and become an astronaut, and the unbridled enthusiasm spoke to the three-time Formula 1 World Champion’s love of different life aspects entirely outside of racing.

“(I) had an incredible day yesterday, having a bit of a comedown today,” Hamilton said today at the FIA Press Conference. “I was just buzzed all day yesterday because it’s always been something I’ve wanted to do. It’s always something I’ve been fascinated about, space and space travel particularly.

“So to actually go there… and I had a million questions. I’m sure the guy got fed up with me. I asked a lot of questions and I got to see a lot of great things, some of the new technology they are working on and yeah, I want to go back.”

The Mercedes AMG Petronas team posted a gallery of Hamilton’s adventure on its website, linked here, and a few samples are below.

As for the Red Bull pair, the young duo of Ricciardo and Verstappen were equally awestruck by the experience.

“There really are a lot of similarities between this and F1, just the technology alone,” Ricciardo said. “I had a guest come to a race last year, when they got into the garage they were like: ‘this is like a space station’. We went to mission control here and it’s really like what we have in the Ops Room in Milton Keynes. Even the safety technology is similar. The astronauts go through the same measurements, a similar kind of HANS device etc. It’s really cool.”

Verstappen added, “There are quite a lot of comparisons, if you really want to talk about it we could go on for an hour! The control center looks pretty similar to ours. We share a lot of the same technology. It was really interesting for us to see that and I bet it would be the same if they could see ours.”

Here’s a link to Red Bull’s gallery and some teaser shots below.