Could Williams be the team to beat in the race for P2?

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As far as the Formula 1 constructors’ championship is concerned this season, there isn’t really much of a fight for the top honors. Mercedes has been dominant in 2014 and sent shockwaves through the sport, setting up an exciting battle for the drivers’ title between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.

Behind the Silver Arrows, though, there is a far closer contest between the teams shaping up; so close that the team in fourth may in fact be best placed to indeed finish as the ‘best of the rest’.

Williams has seen its fortunes turn through 180º in 2014. After scoring just a solitary point before last year’s summer break before going on to claim just four more by the end of the season, the British team has bitten back hard this time around. With a number of fresh faces – Felipe Massa, Rob Smedley, Pat Symonds, Jakob Andreasen – and a rebrand courtesy of Martini, the team has looked, for want of a better word, happy again in 2014. Everything at Grove is good.

The team currently ranks fourth in the constructors’ championship, some seven points behind Ferrari, but the target of second in the standings may seem an unrealistic one with Red Bull 84 points ahead. Can the British outfit really do it?

Yes. It may be a big ask, but Williams should be in the mix for P2 come the end of the year as the circuits in the final stretch suit the FW36 perfectly. Its key strength has been straight line speed this year, allowing the team to excel in Austria and Germany; Valtteri Bottas reached the podium on both occasions.

Felipe Massa spoke about the upcoming tracks before the summer break, and made clear that Williams should be fighting at the sharp end if all things go to plan.

“I think Monza, Spa, maybe USA, maybe Brazil,” he said when asked which tracks will suit Williams. “Also on the last race [Abu Dhabi] you have some good straights as well.

“I think the car can be competitive at many tracks, not just Monza and Spa. Definitely it’s also true that Monza and Spa we can be more than the others, but I think we need to concentrate and think that we can have a good car at most of the tracks.”

So with Spa and Monza coming up, this is where the swing to Williams could take place. Red Bull’s Christian Horner is wary about his team’s chances at both circuits, believing that it may just be a case of doing everything possible to score some points and limit the damage.

“Singapore has to be the next golden opportunity for us in reality,” Horner admitted. “I think it will be damage limitation in the next two races because Force India will suddenly reappear, Williams will be quick, McLaren will be quick and obviously Mercedes will be quick.

“So we’re got to take what we can out of the next two races and then for the flyaways really try and turn things up.”

However, as Massa said, the tracks after Singapore (Sochi, COTA, Interlagos, Yas Marina) should all play into Williams’ hands. Although the RB10 car itself is pretty sound, the Renault engine has really harmed the team at the high speed tracks; Austria was proof of this, with Ricciardo the top scorer in P8.

Eight races, 84 points, eleven points per race to pick up on Red Bull. Is it going to be tough? Yes. But is it possible? Certainly. If Mercedes hits trouble once again between now and the end of the season, it may just well be either Bottas or Massa who picks up the pieces to claim a famous win for Williams.

New Formula E champ, teammate fined for ‘underwear violation’

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During this past weekend’s pair of season-ending races in New York, newly-crowned Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne and Techeetah teammate Andre Lotterer were fined nearly $6,000 apiece for, well, there’s no easier way to say it than, “underwear violations.”

According to Jalopnik.com, the two drivers were fined for “wearing non-compliant” underwear during qualifying for Sunday’s second and final race of the weekend.

In addition to cash, the duo also lost two penalty points each for violating Article 30.14 of the Formula E 2017/2018 regulations.

In case you’re wondering, the violation has nothing to do with not wearing the right sponsor’s brand of jockeys or boxers.

Rather, Formula E ruled the underwear the drivers wore was a “safety issue” and that the drivers were penalized for wearing “non-compliant” underwear.

Drivers are required to wear fire- and flame-resistant outer- and under-garments while behind the wheel to help minimize the risk of being burned in the event of a crash and resulting fire.

Here’s how Formula E characterized the violation in a statement about Vergne’s penalty

“After checking the clothes, helmet and front head restraint of the driver, it was found that he was wearing non-compliant underwear pants which are not allowed by the [FIA’s] international sporting code. The driver apologized. The stewards consider that in this case the infringement occurred during group qualifying with limited cars on circuit for a short period of time.”

It’s not the first time Formula E drivers have been penalized for having on the wrong kind of drawers.

Former F-E champ Lucas di Grassi was penalized three points and nearly $10,000 in March for fire-resistant underwear that FIA officials called “too short.”

Gee, who knew that pre-qualifying “inspection” could be so personal?

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