Special tradition continues on Williams’ new FW36

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It may be a new era for Formula One and a new car for Williams, but the Grove-based squad continues to honor two very important figures from their team’s proud history.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the death of three-time World Champion Ayrton Senna, who lost his life in an accident during the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix while driving for Williams.

Since that dark day, every Williams Formula One car has featured Senna’s famous “S” logo somewhere on it to remember him. And so it goes with their 2014 challenger, the FW36…

Additionally, the other side of the nose features a separate tribute to Lady Virginia Williams, the wife of team founder Sir Frank Williams, who passed away last March after battling cancer for several years. As Sir Frank himself said last May about Senna and “Ginny,” “we as a team want them to be the first to cross the finish line in every race Williams takes part in.”

The Mercedes-powered FW36, decked out in Williams’ “heritage blue” testing livery, made its debut by rolling out of the Jerez garage late in today’s opening day of Formula One preseason testing with second-year driver Valtteri Bottas behind the wheel.

His new Williams teammate, veteran Felipe Massa, is scheduled to be in the car for the last two days of the session on Thursday and Friday.

After a couple of installation laps, Bottas logged a timed lap in the FW36 at 1 minute, 30.082 seconds before today’s testing came to a close.

On a relatively quiet afternoon of action, that was good for third on the time charts behind Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen (1:27.104, 31 laps) and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton (1:27.820, 18 laps), who crashed in the team’s new W05 car after a front wing failure.

In a team-issued Q-and-A to coincide with today’s launch, deputy team principal Claire Williams was very clear about her team’s goals following a dreadful 2013 that only saw them garner five points – four of them coming from Bottas’ eighth-place finish at the United States Grand Prix.

“We have to make progress,” she said. “I think that’s the single most important message for this year. We finished ninth in the [constructors’] championship last year and that was disappointing for everybody at Grove.

“We all know we have to do better. There is no alternative.”

Ken Roczen signs with HEP Progressive Ecstar Suzuki for 2023

Roczen Progressive Ecstar Suzuki
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ANAHEIM, California – Ken Roczen will make the move from HRC Honda to H.E.P. Motorsports with the Progressive Ecstar Suzuki team, ending a long and eventful offseason that saw his split from his longstanding team after he committed to running World Supercross (WSX).

“H.E.P. Motorsports is thrilled to announce that the team has signed Ken Roczen as its premier rider for the 2023 season,” the team announced on Instagram. “Former AMA Motocross champion Roczen will be aboard a Suzuki RM-Z450. Roczen, who won his most recent championship on a Suzuki, will be reunited with the brand and bring his exciting style, determination, and grit back to the RM Army.

“Ken Roczen will compete in the upcoming 2023 Supercross and Motocross Championship series which is set to start on January 7 at Anaheim Stadium in Southern California.”

For Roczen, it is a return to the bike of his youth and on which he had some of his greatest professional success.

“This thing has been going on for weeks and weeks and weeks in the making, but there was so much uncertainty,” Roczen told NBC Sports during Monster Energy Supercross Media Sessions. “It was a very unique situation. I just finally signed two nights ago, so it’s really only legit once the ink hits the paper. It’s been in the works for a long time, but there were just a lot of questions and a lot of input from a lot of other teams too.

“Good things take time, and I’m okay with that. I grew up riding Suzuki. Ot’s like a homecoming. It’s a special feeling”

Roczen won the 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship on a Suzuki before making the move to Honda. That year he won nine of 12 Nationals and finished no worse than second as he easily outpaced Eli Tomac by 86 points. He finished third in his next Pro Motocross outing in 2018 after sitting out the outdoor season in 2017.

“I am beyond excited to reconnect with Suzuki for the 3rd time in my career. We’ve had a lot of success in the past and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish together in our future.” Roczen said in the Instagram post.