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Williams confirms tests for Kubica, di Resta in race for F1 2018 seat

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Williams has confirmed it will give Formula 1 tests to Robert Kubica and Paul di Resta in the near future as it evaluates both drivers for a 2018 race seat alongside Lance Stroll.

Williams currently fields 18-year-old rookie Stroll alongside Felipe Massa, who had planned to retire at the end of last season before returning after Valtteri Bottas’ sudden move up to Mercedes.

Massa has stressed he wants to remain in F1 with Williams next year, but an underwhelming 2017 campaign that has seen him score just one point more than his inexperienced teammate has led the team to consider alternative options.

A report from Motor Sport Magazine‘s Mark Hughes earlier this week claimed Williams would run Kubica and di Resta back-to-back in a 2014-spec Williams in Hungary, with the pair leading the chase for Massa’s seat in 2018.

Kubica has been working for a full-time F1 comeback throughout the year, having last raced in 2010 before suffering severe injuries to his right arm and hand in a rally accident.

Di Resta has worked with Williams in a reserve role for some time, and impressed after a late call-up in Hungary earlier this year when Felipe Massa fell ill after FP3.

Williams technical chief Paddy Lowe confirmed the plans to test Kubica and di Resta together on Friday in Japan, but stressed the team had a long list of drivers under consideration for next year.

“We will test those two drivers. We won’t give away any information around what we do within those tests, that’s a private matter for us and I would stress that that doesn’t mean that they’re the only drivers under consideration,” Lowe said.

“We’re considering quite a large range of which they are only two possibilities.”

With few seats left on the F1 grid in 2018, Williams is seen to offer drivers one of the best remaining options, giving the team the chance to take its time before making a decision.

“It seems like we’re one of the last chairs available for next year. Of course Felipe is very much in the frame, very very high on our list of possibilities, but we owe it to ourselves to take a look around and see what could be the best option for the team going forwards,” Lowe said.

“All options are under consideration, to be honest. You’ve probably seen a number of names that are floating around that we’re looking at but honestly the range is almost unlimited.

“We will consider all ideas. We’re not in a super hurry to do so and we’ll just make sure we land the best line-up we can.”

NHRA: John Force-like motor explosions get contagious during Sunday’s Gatornationals

Photo and video courtesy NHRA
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John Force is rubbing off on others – but probably not the way they or he would like.

The 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion has had spectacular motor explosions in each of the first three races of the new NHRA season, including during Friday’s qualifying for this weekend’s Gatornationals.

During Sunday’s quarterfinals of eliminations, Force’s teammate (and son-in-law and president of John Force Racing) Robert Hight squared off with fellow Funny Car driver Matt Hagan.

As the duo closed in on the finish line, both cars experienced spectacular motor explosions of their own – virtually side-by-side and nearly at the same time.

Hight’s car was the first to explode, tossing its body high in the air. A split-second later, Hagan’s car exploded, also sending the body flying.

Check out the NHRA video:

Hight wound up losing the race.

Hagan, meanwhile, and his crack pit crew rolled their backup car off the hauler, put in a new motor and went on to race through the semifinals and into the finals, losing to race winner “Fast Jack” Beckman.

“We had a pretty great race day, to be honest,” Hagan said. “I’ve never been to the finals in Gainesville.

“We obviously had a huge blow up in the second round, then to watch these guys pull the other car back out and put it together in the amount of time they had, then turn a win light on against Capps (Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps in the semifinals), then to be able to go to a final, it was huge and it speaks for itself.”

As for Hight, here’s his take on what happened with the motor explosion:

“I couldn’t see (Hagan) over there and it wasn’t like it was hazing the tires or anything else. As it turns out it wasn’t spinning at all. It kicked two rods out when it blacked the bearings in the crank then it hit the valves and blew up.

“The thing gave me no indication at all before that. What really scared me was once I got it under control and I look over and see his body is off his car. I am thinking ‘Oh man, he got gathered up in me.’ Then I stood up and looked and his injector was sideways so I realized he had an explosion as well. We are just lucky we didn’t get into each other.”

As for the guy who has had so much trouble in the motor department, John Force, he lost in the first round of Sunday’s eliminations to daughter Courtney Force.

John Force planned on shutting the motor off on his car at around the 700-foot mark of the 1,000-foot dragstrip, not wanting to risk another motor explosion – even though it meant a likely loss to his daughter.

Now John Force and his entire four-car team, including Courtney Force, Robert Hight and daughter and Top Fuel driver Brittany Force, will be off for extensive testing to try and determine what’s been causing the motor explosions.

“We have to evaluate it and go test,” Force said. “We’ll figure it out.”

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