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Williams feels like ‘little girl’ in F1, wants to be braver

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LONDON (AP) Claire Williams still feels like a “little girl” during talks with the male-dominated titans of Formula One and she has set herself a mission for the new season: Be braver and fight more for her team.

The 39-year-old Williams is preparing for her fourth season as deputy team principal of Williams, in day-to-day control under her father Frank.

“Our sport is very male dominated and sometimes I am the only girl in the room,” Williams said at a Sport Industry Group event for future leaders.

“I sit in a room with the likes of [F1 commercial supremo] Bernie Ecclestone, [FIA President] Jean Todt, [Red Bull’s] Christian Horner, [Mercedes’] Toto Wolf. All these amazingly big names in our sport.

“I sometimes feel like I’m the little girl in the room… sometimes I wish, when I’m responsible for fighting for my team and my team’s position within our sport, [I’m] perhaps sometimes braver.”

Williams won a combined 16 drivers’ and constructors’ titles in the 1980s and 90s but the team has not enjoyed similar glory in this century.

Williams reflected late Wednesday on inheriting a team on the “way out” but one she “did not want to see die.” The Mercedes-powered team has gone on to finish third in the constructors’ championship for the last two years, despite having the fifth-biggest budget in the series at around $150 million.

Within Williams, though, there remains a sense of inferiority, despite being eclipsed by only Mercedes and Ferrari in 2015.

“I hate the expression ‘underdog’ – we have always been regarded as that,” she said. “I don’t think you can call a team that’s won 16 world championships an underdog. One of my other missions is to try and eliminate, eradicate this badge we have of ‘underdog’ because I actually think it can be very demoralizing for the people that work for you.

“We have 550 people and I have to try and inspire those people to go out and give blood, sweat, and tears, because that’s what it takes if you are going to win in sport.”

Asked what she would prefer Williams to be known as rather than underdogs, Williams responded in a flash: “Winners.”

Indy Lights: Askew clinches 2019 title while VeeKay wins Laguna Seca race 1

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MONTEREY, Calif – Rinus VeeKay may have won the first race of the weekend’s Indy Lights doubleheader at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca Saturday afternoon, but all all eyes post-race were all on the driver who finished the race in the fourth position.

That driver was Oliver Askew, who by simply starting the 30-lap event at the famed road course won the 2019 series title, along with the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series scholarship that guarantees a minimum of three races next season.

“It’s all sinking in,” Askew told NBC Sports following the race. “I’m really happy to be part of this team. They’re back to back champions now in Indy Lights, and I feel very fortunate to be driving in this car this year.

“This is what we worked for all year. I’m very happy to be in this position and I can’t wait to celebrate with my team.”

With the championship in Askew’s possession from the get-go, the best VeeKay could do for in race 1 was to win in dominant fashion. He went on to do just so.

After starting the race from the pole position, VeeKay led every lap from start to finish en route to his fifth victory of the season.

“We managed the car well and kept the car consistent throughout the whole race,” VeeKay said. “I got a great car from the team so I want to give a big shout out to them for giving me a winning car.”

Behind VeeKay, Portland race 2 winner Toby Sowery finished the race in the second position, while Robert Megennis finished third.

Live streaming coverage of race two of the Indy Lights doubleheader at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca begins tomorrow afternoon at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold.

Click here for full race results

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