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Amid 2017 F1 struggles, Williams admits it ‘can’t have another year like this’

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Williams is currently undertaking a complete analysis of where the weaknesses in its Formula 1 operation lie, with deputy team boss Claire Williams saying: “We can’t have another year like this.”

Williams recovered from a difficult spell in F1 to finish third in the constructors’ championship in 2014 and 2015, only to slip back to fifth last year behind Ferrari and Force India.

Force India has emerged as the leading midfield team once again in F1 this year, scoring over double the points of Williams through the opening 13 races of the season, despite Lance Stroll hitting the podium in Baku.

Williams’ chief concern in the standings instead lies behind as Toro Rosso, Haas and Renault all threaten to shuffle the British team further down the table between now and the end of the season.

A number of internal changes have taken place at Williams in recent months, with the biggest addition being that of ex-Mercedes and McLaren technical chief Paddy Lowe at the beginning of the year.

Claire Williams explained how Lowe is working hard to identify where the issues within the team lie, knowing that a repeat of its 2017 struggles cannot be tolerated.

“As you would expect, someone of Paddy’s caliber has a plan and ever since he joined us back in March this year he’s been undertaking a full analysis of the team back at the factory, but also the race team operations on the ground trackside in order to understand where the weaknesses lie,” Williams said.

“We’ve gone through that as a board and now we’re looking at how we allocate resources moving forward into 2018 so that we can address those weaknesses.

“I think a lot of our weaknesses appeared at the midpoint in last year’s season and we can’t go into another season having the same issues that we’ve had so we have full trust in Paddy.

“But also we’ve brought in a number of other senior personnel to work alongside, so Dirk de Beer heads our aerodynamic department now as well, comes from Ferrari this year to us, and some other senior engineers who are hopefully going to turn things around for us.

“But as I said, we can’t have another year like this.”

Australia SuperCar Champion gets IndyCar Test at Team Penske

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Scott McLaughlin’s latest reward for winning the 2019 Virgin Australia SuperCar championship is an INDYCAR test at Team Penske.

“Scott has been incredibly successful for DJR Team Penske over the last three seasons and he has become a true champion of our sport,” said team owner Roger Penske, who will become the owner of INDYCAR, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500 in early January. “He certainly embraces new challenges and we think this is a great opportunity to utilize the IndyCar Series rookie testing program so Scott can experience what it is like to get behind the wheel of one of our Indy cars.”

McLaughlin, who has scored back-to-back Virgin Australia Supercars Champion for DJR Team Penske (DJRTP), will participate in an INDYCAR Rookie Evaluation test at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Fla. on Monday, January 13.

“I am always open to new challenges and I’m thankful to Team Penske for providing this opportunity to test an Indy car,” said McLaughlin, who established a new Supercars single season record with 18 victories this past season. “We had an amazing year in 2019 and I’m looking forward to defending our Supercars championship next season. I’m also excited to grow as a driver and being with Team Penske creates cool opportunities to try something new. Although I have spent a few hours in a simulator earlier this year, it’s going to be a blast to see what one really feels like at a place like Sebring.”

McLaughlin joined DJR Team Penske in 2017 as one of the brightest stars in Supercars. He has produced 35 victories and 44 pole positions over the last three seasons while helping DJRTP claim team championships in 2017 and 2019, the driver’s title each of the last two seasons and the legendary Bathurst 1000 race in October, along with co-driver Alex Premat.

McLaughlin will defend his Supercars title for DJRTP in 2020 in the No. 17 Shell V-Power Ford Mustang.  He will build on his already successful racing career by driving a full-sized open-wheel car for the first time.

Team Penske enjoyed another successful IndyCar Series season in 2019. The team earned its record 18th Indianapolis 500 victory as Simon Pagenaud captured the checkered flag in May, while Josef Newgarden won his second series title in three years and the team’s 16th INDYCAR Championship. Team Penske will once again compete with three full-season entries in 2020, featuring series champion drivers Newgarden, Pagenaud and Will Power.

Team Penske is one of the most successful teams in the history of professional sports. Cars owned and prepared by Team Penske have produced more than 540 major race wins, over 620 pole positions and 37 Championships across open-wheel, stock car and sports car racing competition. Over the course of its 53-year history, the team has also earned 18 Indianapolis 500 victories, two Daytona 500 Championships, a Formula 1 win, overall victories in the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring along with a win in Australia’s legendary Bathurst 1000 race. Team Penske currently competes in the IndyCar Series, the NASCAR Cup Series, the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The team also races in the Virgin Australia SuperCars Championship, in a partnership with Dick Johnson Racing, as DJR Team Penske.

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500