Williams head of vehicle development Rob Smedley has said that the team has learned how to be successful once again following a difficult few years.
The British team has made a sensational start to the season, ranking fourth in the constructors’ and entering battle with the likes of Ferrari and Red Bull. Such form was unthinkable twelve months ago, at which time the team had just one point to its name.
Smedley even went as far to suggest that the team could challenge Mercedes for victory at the next two races in Belgium and Italy thanks to the high-speed nature of the circuits.
“It’s a possibility,” he said when asked about Williams’ chances of winning one of the next two races.
“As I’ve quite often said, the ambition of the team is to win the world championship, and in order to win the world championship you have to beat everybody. I think we know that the world championship is a little bit one-sided this year, but that doesn’t stop us preparing ourselves for the years to come.
“Running at the front and winning races is something that this team needs to relearn how to do. You saw that once we relearned how to be slick enough to get podiums they kept falling out of the jackpot machine at us.”
Williams has indeed been one of the most impressive teams over the past few races, scoring three podium finishes in the past four grands prix and locking out the front row at the Austrian Grand Prix in June. Now, the focus will be on continuing this at Spa and Monza.
“I’m reasonably confident that our car can go well in both of those races,” Smedley said. “But I’ve said before that we don’t fear anywhere really.”
Gabby Chaves is set to return to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Watkins Glen International later this month.
The Columbian-American driver, who last competed in IMSA in 2016 – with the DeltaWing outfit – will sub for the injured Joao Barbosa – he hurt his wrist in a cycling accident earlier in June – in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen.
Chaves will partner Filipe Albuquerque and Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 5 Cadillac.
Chaves expressed gratitude for being asked to fill in, but kept his enthusiasm muted, noting that he is getting the opportunity ultimately because another driver got hurt.
“The first thing is of course that you never want to have an opportunity because someone got hurt, so this is an unfortunate circumstance with Joao having his injury,”said Chaves. “But I appreciate the opportunity to join the championship-leading team. Mustang Sampling Racing has had a strong start this year and hopefully I can help the team continue to have those kinds of results.”
Chaves added, “I love Watkins Glen, it is a great track and I am looking forward to racing the Cadillac Prototype there. I’m excited to be going back to endurance racing. With different classes all racing at the same time, there is a lot for the driver to deal with as you work through traffic. So I am looking forward to racing at the Glen again, and I really appreciate this opportunity with Mustang Sampling Racing.”
Chaves’ most recent IMSA event was the 2016 Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, when he finished seventh in the Prototype class.
The No. 5 Action Express Cadillac currently sits tied with the sister No. 31 Whelen Engineer Racing Cadillac of Eric Curran and Felipe Nasr atop the IMSA standings, though Barbosa’s hopes of a driver’s championship are set to take an enormous hit with him missing Watkins Glen.