Toyota dominates Silverstone WEC qualifying for first pole since 2013

Leave a comment

Toyota put its aerokit advantage to good use in qualifying for the FIA World Endurance Championship season-opener at Silverstone on Saturday afternoon, scorching to a one-two finish to mark its first pole position in over three years.

Entering 2017 after a tough year notable for its heartbreaking defeat at Le Mans, Toyota made a range of updates to its TS050 Hybrid car and tweaked its driver line-up by drafting in three-time WTCC champion Jose Maria Lopez.

With the rival Porsche team opting to run its Le Mans-spec aerokit for Silverstone, Toyota was able to make its high downforce setup advantage tell by romping to a one-two finish.

Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi combined to record a two-lap average of 1:37.304 in the No. 7 TS050 Hybrid, clinching pole by almost three-tenths of a second from Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima in the sister No. 8 car.

Defending champion team Porsche was left to settle for third and fourth for the start, finishing over a second adrift of the Toyotas with its No. 1 and No. 2 919 Hybrids.

G-Drive Racing picked up pole in the LMP2 class courtesy of Alex Lynn and Pierre Thiriet, edging just 0.046 seconds clear of the No. 36 Signatech Alpine entry.

Ford eased to pole position in GTE Pro as Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell finished eight-tenths of a second clear, leaving Sam Bird and Davide Rigon to settle for second in the No. 71 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE. Aston Martin’s No. 98 entry will start at the head of the GTE Am field.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.