Williams drivers hopeful of points in spite of poor Monaco GP qualifying

0 Comments

Williams drivers Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas remain hopeful of scoring points in tomorrow’s Monaco Grand Prix despite falling to their worst qualifying results of the season on Saturday.

Entering this weekend’s race, Williams expected to struggle given that its FW37 car is not suited to the tight and twisting nature of the Monaco street circuit.

However, few would have predicted that Bottas would drop out in the first stage of qualifying, posting a time that was only good enough for 17th place on the grid.

“I had some traffic on my initial option run and couldn’t go at the sort of pace needed to keep the tire temperatures correct, and on my timed lap I just lacked overall grip throughout the lap,” Bottas explained.

“We knew this track was not going to suit our car and we’ve been struggling to get the tires to work throughout the weekend. Then again this is the sort of track where lots of things can happen and if we stay out of trouble and finish the race then points are still possible.”

Although Felipe Massa was able to make it through to Q2, he went no further, dropping out of qualifying in 14th position.

“There were no major issues during qualifying that caused us to be out of position,” Massa said. “Monaco just isn’t a circuit that suits the characteristics of our car. We struggled throughout the day and found it hard to set the lap times we wanted.

“Tomorrow won’t be easy, but anything is possible due to the nature of the track. It’s not a great result as we have become used to qualifying higher, but I’m confident we can still get points and that must be our focus.”

Williams’ head of performance engineering Rob Smedley explained how the team had been significant progress in Monaco, and he hopes that this can continue in the race on Sunday.

“It was clearly a tough qualifying session for us and we are out of our usual position,” he said. “We have been pouring through the data all week to try and find ways to improve our pace here, and whilst we have made some in-roads, qualifying has just come too soon for us to recover everything.

“Starting 14th and 17th in Monaco is never ideal because it so difficult to overtake, but we will see what we can do and the aim will be to get both cars home in the points.”

F1 Countdown for the Monaco Grand Prix is live on NBCSN from 7am on Sunday, before switching over to NBC at 7:30am ET for the race.

Kyle Busch interests McLaren for Indy 500, but team is leaning toward experience

McLaren Indy Kyle Busch
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
1 Comment

With Arrow McLaren SP heavily weighing a fourth car for the Indy 500 next year, Kyle Busch is a candidate but not at the top of the IndyCar team’s list.

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown addressed the possibility Wednesday morning during a video news conference with Gavin Ward, the team’s newly named racing director.

“I have not personally spoken with Kyle Busch, but you can read into that that someone else in our organization has,” Brown said. “We want to make sure if we run a fourth car, we’re in the mindset that we want someone that is experienced around the 500. It’s such an important race, and from a going for the championship point of view, we’ve got three drivers that we want to have finish as strong as possible, so if we ran a fourth car, we’d want to be additive, not only for the fourth car itself, but to the three cars and so bringing in someone who’s not done it before potentially doesn’t add that value from an experience point of view.”

Busch will race the No. 8 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing next season in NASCAR under a new deal that will allow the two-time Cup Series champion to make his Indy 500 debut. Busch, who had a previous deal to run the Indy 500 nixed by Joe Gibbs Racing, openly courted Chevy IndyCar teams to contact him during his introductory news conference with RCR last month.

After Team Penske (which has given no indications of a fourth car at Indy alongside champion Will Power, Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin), McLaren is the second-best Chevy organization, and it’s fielded an extra Indy 500 car the past two years for Juan Pablo Montoya. The Associated Press reported last month that McLaren was in “serious conversation” about running Busch at Indy with Menards sponsorship.

But with its restructured management, the team is in the midst of significant expansion for 2023. AMSP is adding a third full-time car for 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi to team with Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist, and a massive new shop also is being built in the Indianapolis area.

“(It’s) not because of him but purely because of experience,” Brown said of Busch. “He’s an awesome talent and would be huge, huge news for the speedway. But yeah, I think everyone is under consideration if we decide to do it, but experience is right at the top of the list as far as what’s going to be the most important to us.”

And it seems likely there will be a veteran joining Rossi, O’Ward and Rosenqvist at the Brickyard.

“A fourth car at the 500 is very much under consideration,” Brown said. “I wouldn’t even want to get ahead of ourselves, but we wouldn’t be ruling out a fourth car in the future on a full-time basis. That definitely wouldn’t be for ’23. But as we expand the team and get into larger facilities and things of that nature, it’s something that Gavin and I have spoken about.

“I think we would be in a position to run a fourth car at the 500 this upcoming year. If we do decide to do that, we’ll make that decision soon for maximum preparation, and I would say we’re open minded to a fourth car in ’24 and beyond and probably will make that decision middle of next year in time to be prepared if we did decide to do that.”

Brown also addressed the future of Alex Palou, who will be racing for Chip Ganassi Racing next season after also signing a deal with McLaren. Though Brown declined to get into specifics about whether Palou had signed a new deal, he confirmed Palou will continue to test “our Formula One car from time to time.

“Everyone has reached an amicable solution,” Brown said. “We’ve now had Alex in our Formula One car as we have Pato. That will continue in the future, which we’re quite excited about. At this point we’re laser-focused on 2023 and glad to have the noise behind us and now just want to put our head down and get on with the job with the three drivers we have.”