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.”

Michael Schumacher’s son to make F1 practice debut at Nurburgring

F1 Mick Schumacher
Joe Portlock - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images
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MARANELLO, Italy — Mick Schumacher, son of the legednary seven-time champion, will have an official Formula One drive during an F1 race weekend for the first time next week at the Nurburgring, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari said Tuesday.

Schumacher gets the practice drive in an Alfa Romeo on Oct. 9 on his home track in Germany as a member of Ferrari’s young driver program, taking over Antonio Giovinazzi’s car for the first session of the weekend.

“I am overjoyed to get this chance in free practice,” Schumacher said in a statement. “I’m going to prepare myself well, so that I can do the best possible job for the team and gain some valuable data for the weekend.”

The 21-year-old Schumacher leads the Formula 2 standings after winning races in Monza and Sochi. He won the European Formula 3 championship in 2018 and tested a Ferrari F1 car in Bahrain in April 2019. He also has done demonstration runs in his father’s old cars, most recently this month ahead of the Tuscan Grand Prix in a championship-winning 2004 Ferrari.

Michael Schumacher holds the F1 record with 91 victories, which Lewis Hamilton is on the verge of tying.

Ferrari said two other drivers in its academy program will also get practice drives in Formula One.

Callum Ilott, a British driver who is second to Mick Schumacher in F2, will drive an F1 Haas at the Nurburgring on the same day as Schumacher. Russian driver Robert Shwartzman will drive in practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Dec. 11, though Ferrari hasn’t said for which team.

The German round was added to the F1 schedule after the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the season and will be officially known as the Eifel Grand Prix after a nearby mountain range. The Nurburgring last hosted F1 in 2013.