Williams optimistic of Spanish Grand Prix gains

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Williams have high hopes for the upgrade package they plan to introduce at this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.

It’s been a disappointing start to the season for the team and drivers Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas as the FW35 has failed to build on the promise shown by its predecessor. Four races in, the team are yet to get their first points on the board.

From an early stage in the season the team targeted the Spanish race as the venue for a big push on car development. Chief race engineer Xevi Pujolar believes they will make gains at the Circuit de Catalunya:

“We are working with a package for Spain and we expect it to be better. But we cannot say how much,” he said.

Pujolar added the early signs were encouraging as previous changes they have made to the car have produced the desired effect:

“At the moment we think that it’s going in the right direction, even though it is not going as fast as we would like. But all the parts we brought to the car we’ve run them, so that’s good.”

Williams won the Spanish Grand Prix last year. But it was a bittersweet weekend for the team as a fire swept through the garage as they celebrated the result, injuring several mechanics who bravely fought the flames.

Here’s who were picking to win the Indy 500 — who are YOU picking?

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Several members of the NBC Sports motorsports staff have made their predictions on who will win Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Of the six voters, two are going with 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series champ Josef Newgarden, while two others are going with Helio Castroneves to win a fourth 500, which would tie him with A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears.

Here’s our picks. Who are YOU picking?

Leigh Diffey: Helio Castroneves — He drives the place better than anyone else. For me (for what its worth) he deserves a fourth 500 ring for the frustration he went through never getting the IndyCar title!

Townsend Bell: Josef Newgarden

Nate Ryan: Simon Pagenaud — All of his 2018 misfortune on the track has disappeared in May, and it culminates in the biggest victory of his career.

Jerry Bonkowski: Helio Castroneves – There’s no pressure as he pursues his fourth Indy 500 win. All Helio has to do, as late NFL owner Al Davis would say, is “Just win, baby!” (But if Helio falls short, watch for Marco Andretti)

Kyle Lavigne: Josef Newgarden — I think he has everything he needs to get it done this year.

Dan Beaver: Robert Wickens – Has driven like anything except a rookie and his second-place finish at Phoenix proves he’s just as good on an oval as the road courses.

Follow: Jerry Bonkowski