What Williams kept hidden about the 2023 car
The Williams FW45 will be officially unveiled when it takes to the track for a filming session at Silverstone on Monday. During the team’s “season launch” event, key information about the 2023 Formula 1 car was disclosed.
Dave Robson, head of vehicle performance, referred to the car as a “philosophical evolution” of last year’s model with noticeable modifications.
Some modifications, such as a 15mm increase in the height of the floor edges, are a result of regulatory changes. Additionally, there will be further advancement in the sidepod concept first introduced on Alex Albon’s car at Silverstone last year.
Robson said, “The alterations are obviously perceptible, however, they are primarily controlled by the modifications in regulations affecting the ground.”
According to Robson, “The most noticeable update will be to the sidepod package, which builds on the improvements made for the Silverstone upgrade.”
“Previously, our radiator arrangement restricted us, and we were reluctant to undertake a significant renovation. However, we now have the opportunity to reorganize and implement enhancements.”
“These are the noticeable alterations that stand out.”
The Williams team performed well on low-downforce circuits like Monza and Spa last year, but struggled on most tracks where strong downforce is essential for a strong performance across various types of corners.
Williams has tried to improve the aerodynamics of its new car, especially in areas where it faced difficulties last year. While the Silverstone upgrade aimed to enhance the car’s overall aerodynamic performance, it resulted in a car that was inconsistent and prone to instability in windy conditions.
The team also had issues with front-brake locking during low-speed turns, where the car performed poorly. They are cautiously hopeful that they have addressed these problems with the new car.
“Enhancing the performance in corners that require high downforce at low speeds was a central focus during the creation of the new vehicle. Much of it depends on the car’s capabilities and how the drivers can utilize its accessible downforce.”
“We’ve done extensive work on this and set goals, but it’s challenging to set a lap time target as it involves balancing downforce and drag.
“We have confidence in our attainable objectives and have observed positive results from our wind tunnel and simulator assessments with the drivers. Nevertheless, the ultimate examination will be on the racetrack.”
Williams will again be using the Mercedes power unit, gearbox, and hydraulic systems in 2023
According to Robson, Williams will maintain its use of pullrod rear suspension due to its supply agreement. Although this design choice is imposed on them, Robson does not view it as a hindrance to the design of the FW45.
Robson stated, “We will still receive the casing from Mercedes as we did last year.”
Robson said, “We’re satisfied with the design of the rear suspension and it serves our needs without issue.”
Both drivers, Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant, have extensively tested the car in the driver-in-loop simulator over the past few weeks.
Albon feels that the tests in the simulator have shown progress, though this could only be confirmed by real-world performance.
Albon has set a goal of consistently reaching Q2 this year, and is optimistic that the faults of last year’s car have been rectified. He feels confident in this assessment based on his experiences in the driver-in-loop simulator, where he noted that the inconsistent corner balance was less of an issue than in the previous year’s car.
Albon stated that last year’s car had some distinct issues, particularly with front-locking at low speeds, and the team is working to address and overcome these difficulties. He is confident that progress has been made in this area based on the results seen in the driver-in-loop simulator.
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Albon stated that there were clear weaknesses in the previous car, mentioning issues with low-speed front-locking being a major concern. He added that both he and Logan Sargeant are working together to improve the car, building on their experiences from last year and striving to resolve the issues.
Robson acknowledges that Williams has been lagging behind in terms of aerodynamic design compared to the top teams for a long time. He attributes this to the huge investments made by the top teams over the past decade, which cannot be easily matched by a team like Williams.
Albon agrees with Robson’s perspective, but is optimistic that improvements to the car’s basic features are being made that will result in more consistent performance.
“Improving the aero disadvantage won’t happen overnight,” Albon stated in response to a question from The Race. “It requires a learning process, and it can’t be accomplished within a single year, despite our wishes to the contrary.”
“According to Albon, cars have a distinct language, almost like a DNA, that stays consistent despite changes in regulations. He believes that this is evident across the years.”
“We’re working towards improving the car’s overall performance and getting a better grip on its weaknesses,” said Albon. “It’s a difficult undertaking, but we have identified the problems and are seeking solutions. However, it is not a quick fix. Cars have their own unique language and tend to maintain the same characteristics from year to year. It’s a gradual process of full understanding and making progress.”
“We’ll find out in Bahrain. The 9th and 10th turns are known to be challenging, and if we can tackle them with the rear of the car, it will be a positive indication.”
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Turn 9/10 is a challenging slow left-turn onto the back straight that requires strong braking performance from the car.
If the drivers of Williams can confidently navigate Turn 9/10 during pre-season testing by rapidly turning the car into the corner, it will indicate significant progress has been made. This will be tested during the team’s scheduled second filming day before the test, as the demanding left-hander leading to the back straight tests a car’s braking abilities.
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