F1 Team Williams Forced to Abandon ‘Virtual’ Launch after Hack


London, March 5 (AFP/APP): Formula One team Williams had to abandon the unveiling of their 2021 car via an augmented reality app on Friday after they were targeted by hackers.

The British team had hoped to allow fans to project the new machine into their homes but instead they had to pull the plug just an hour before the innovative launch.

“Williams Racing planned to reveal its 2021 challenger, the FW43B, via an augmented reality app later today,” the team said in a statement. “However, sadly, because the app was hacked prior to launch, this will no longer be possible.” It added: “We were very much looking forward to sharing this experience with our fans, particularly during this difficult time when being able to bring in-person experiences directly to our fans is sadly not possible.”

British driver George Russell, who is set for his third season with Williams, tweeted: “Massive shame. I’ve seen the app and it was going to be an awesome experience for you guys. Whoever did this, seriously not cool.”

Williams, who have been rooted to the foot of the constructors’ championship for the past three seasons, tweeted an image of their new car, in blue and white livery with yellow accents. Founder Frank Williams sold the F1 operation to US investment firm Dorilton Capital last year, with his daughter Claire Williams relinquishing her role as the de facto team principal. Speaking for the first time as CEO of Williams Racing, Jost Capito said the team, who were a powerful force in the 1980s and 1990s, had set their sights on a return to the front of the grid.

“Williams Racing is a sporting icon, and a team that has forged a reputation of success through sheer determination and grit intertwined with innovation, passionate and skilful race-craft and an absolute desire to win,” he said.

Capito added: “We have created a fresh new livery for the 2021 car — one that acknowledges our incredible past and retains the spirit, drive and motivation that remains at the core of Williams’ DNA yet looks to the future and signposts our long-term ambition to return to the front of the grid.” F1 pre-season testing takes place in Bahrain from March 12 to 14, with the opening grand prix staged in the kingdom on March 28.

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