February 13, 2019 / 10:55 AM / 10 days ago

Motor racing: Williams cancel shakedown in rush to be ready for testing

LONDON (Reuters) - Williams have cancelled plans to run their new Formula One car for the first time on Saturday as they rush to be ready for the start of pre-season testing in Spain next week.

Williams' driver Robert Kubica poses with car in Warsaw, Poland, January 29, 2019. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Files

The former champions, who finished last overall in a dire 2018 season, are not the only team racing against time, with Renault also working flat out to complete their car.

Both teams held livery launches at their factories in England this week but the cars on display were essentially last year’s models with fresh paintwork and branding and new front wings.

“We have had an extremely aggressive engineering programme over the winter,” said Williams deputy principal Claire Williams on Wednesday.

“As such, we have taken the decision not to run our car during our filming day this weekend in order to allow the team to maximise the time at the factory before we head to Barcelona for the first day of the test on February 18.”

Champions Mercedes have had no such headaches, the team running their new W10 for the first time at Silverstone on Wednesday.

Formula One teams always operate to tight margins in designing and building cars, seeking to maximise development time, and this year has seen significant new aerodynamic regulations come into play.

Renault are also due to have their car on track at the Circuit de Catalunya on Saturday but team boss Cyril Abiteboul told reporters that was looking uncertain.

“It’s super-tight,” the Frenchman told reporters of the timing.

“As we speak, we are 100 percent sure of nothing,” he added when asked whether the team would be ready for the start of testing.

“There will be two drivers, they will be there if you want to have a chat and a coffee. We should have a motorhome and a coffee machine working, but that is as far as I am 100 percent sure.”

Abiteboul said time spent in the wind tunnel had a direct impact on performance but Renault, fourth overall last season and hoping to close the gap to the top three, might have to be more conservative next year.

“You don’t want to turn up and have to shake down your car and realise that there is something that isn’t working. It is a balancing exercise,” he said. “We have been a step too far, and we will maybe have to review it for next year.”

Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Christian Radnedge

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