Saturday, April 13, 2024

Williams 2023 F1 car an “evolution” despite key differences

Williams’ new Formula 1 car, which is set to run for the first time next week, is an “evolution” of last year’s philosophy but will feature revised sidepods.

The Grove-based squad is chasing improved fortunes in 2023 after it finished bottom of the constructors’ championship last season.

It has also undergone further management upheaval over the winter, with team principal Jost Capito and technical director FX Demaison departing.

While the timing of the change was not ideal, the team’s designers have been able to push on with the FW45, and the squad hopes that changes made have addressed some of the weaknesses of last year’s model.

But Williams’ head of vehicle performance Dave Robson has explained that while the car will have some notable visible differences, it does retain the inherent concept thinking of last year’s car.

“It’s philosophically an evolution,” he said. “Obviously the regulation changes around the floor dominate some of it, and then I think the other thing that you’ll find that is most obvious is a bit of an update to the sidepod package, which is an evolution of what we did for the Silverstone upgrade package [in 2022].

“We were a bit constrained then by the radiator layout and not wanting to completely change that. So we’ve had an opportunity to work on that and lay things out a little bit differently.

“They’re probably the main visible things. But, philosophically, it’s an evolution.”

Williams FW45 livery detail

Photo by: Williams

The new Williams is due to have its first shakedown at Silverstone on Monday, with another filming day planned in Bahrain prior to the only pre-season test in Sakhir from February 23.

Driver Alex Albon said that Williams was fully aware of where last year’s car was poor, and what areas would need sorting out for the FW45.

“There were clear weaknesses in the car,” he explained. “It’s not just me, also Nicky [Latifi] last year, Logan [Sargeant] drove the car as well. There were pretty obvious weaknesses in the car.

“I can say that low speed front-locking was quite a big problem for us last year, and we’re trying to get around that and understand why it was so difficult. So areas like that there’s a common goal to improve the car.

“Everyone’s involved in the development and trying to address the weaknesses we had.”

Robson says the team has spent a lot of time trying to find a better balance between its strength in high-speed/low downforce trim and what was required for low-speed performance.

“The low speed, high downforce corners were certainly important to us in terms of how we spec the car out,” he said.

“I think a lot of that is about its characteristics and how the drivers can utilise the downforce it does have. We’ve done a lot of work on that. We set some targets.

“It’s difficult to sort of put a lap time target on something like that, and therefore trading it against just basic downforce and drag can be difficult. But we think we set some good targets.

“We think we’ve seen some good progress when we take the aeromap data from the windtunnel and run it through the simulator with the drivers. But we’ll have to see. We certainly need to make some improvements there and I’d like to think we’ve done just that.”

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