Momentum and expectations high at Williams for 2015

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Following today’s launch of the Williams FW37 car, Felipe Massa has said that the team is entering the 2015 Formula 1 season full of confidence after a successful 2014 campaign.

Williams was arguably the surprise package of the last season, finishing third in the championship ahead of Ferrari and McLaren as Massa and Valtteri Bottas picked up nine podium finishes. In 2013, the team had scored just five points en route to ninth place in the final standings.

The team is now looking to build upon its 2014 form heading into the new season, with Massa believing that everyone is moving in the right direction.

“The momentum we carry from last year has been very encouraging,” Massa said. “The team has changed so much from 12 months ago and it is clear to see everyone is heading in a good direction.

“The development rate of the FW36 was one of the most exciting elements of the car. The team worked exceptionally hard throughout the year to make sure that we had a faster car at each race, and I look forward to a similarly impressive car this year.

“I am excited to be continuing to work with Valtteri, a driver with so much talent who has so much to offer both the team and me as his teammate.”

Following the success of 2014, Bottas believes that Williams enters the new season with high expectations, and the Finn is now targeting his first race win in Formula 1.

“Coming into a season after third position in the constructors’ championship carries the weight of a lot of expectation,” Bottas said. “Other teams and our fans are expecting a performance like last year, and all the personnel at Williams have been working tirelessly to make sure this is not only achievable but the benchmark for improvement.

“For much of last year we had the second fastest car, and this year we plan to take every opportunity to challenge at the front. After my first podium in 2014 I hope to continue developing as a driver as I aim for my first win. I look forward to working closely with Felipe again this year as we strengthen our relationship to extract the most from the car.”

Alex Zanardi showing signs of interaction three months after crash

Alex Zanardi recovery
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
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MILAN — Italian racing driver turned Paralympic gold medalist Alex Zanardi has started responding to treatment with signs of interaction, more than three months after he was seriously injured in a handbike crash.

Zanardi has spent most of that time in intensive care after crashing into an oncoming truck during a relay event near the Tuscan town of Pienza on June 19.

“For several days now. Alex Zanardi has undergone cognitive and motor rehabilitation sessions, with the administration of visual and acoustic stimuli, to which the patient responds with momentary and initial signs of interaction,” the San Raffaele hospital in Milan said in a statement Thursday.

The hospital said that is “significant progress” but added that his condition remains serious, and that it would be “absolutely premature” to make a long-term prognosis.

Zanardi, 53, suffered serious facial and cranial trauma in the crash and was put in a medically induced coma. Doctors have warned of possible brain damage.

He was operated on several times to stabilize him and reconstruct his severely damaged face and the Milan hospital added that he recently had undergone another surgery to reconstruct his skull and would have another one in the coming weeks.

Zanardi lost both of his legs in an auto racing crash nearly 20 years ago. He won four gold medals and two silvers at the 2012 and 2016 Paralympics. He also competed in the New York City Marathon and set an Ironman record in his class.