Williams bolsters aero department with ex-Lotus/Red Bull hires

Leave a comment

Williams has continued its efforts to emerge from the back of the Formula One grid with a pair of new technical hires that are making their way to Grove from two of F1’s top teams.

Former Lotus member Dave Wheater has come on board as Williams’ new head of aerodynamic performance, while former Red Bull Racing member Shaun Whitehead joins as head of aerodynamic process.

Since the addition of Pat Symonds as chief technical officer this past summer, Williams has been steadily rebuilding, an endeavor that has included the signing of former Ferrari stalwart Felipe Massa as one of its two drivers for 2014 (the other being sophomore-to-be Valtteri Bottas).

Now, Symonds hopes that Wheater and Whitehead can help Williams make the most of next year’s new technical regulations and move the team up the running order.

“These two appointments show our commitment to both improving the process of aerodynamic development while focussing on the application of that development to true on-track performance,” Symonds said in a team statement.

“Dave and Shaun bring a wealth of experience to our team and I welcome them both to Grove and fully expect them to make significant contributions to the renewed competitiveness that we are all working so hard to achieve.

“With Dave and Shaun on board, and under Jason’s stewardship, we will be well positioned to make gains in this important area and support the continuing task of developing the FW36 in what promises to be an exciting year for the sport in 2014.”

Both Wheater and Whitehead will report to Williams’ head of aerodynamics, Jason Somerville, who said in his own thoughts that he was pleased to have them on the team – regarding them as “first class talents” that have “enviable track records within F1.”

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry. Time just published a brief piece by Wallace saluting Hamilton as a trailblazer.

The idea of Hamilton attending the NASCAR season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it would seem right for Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — to spend some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).