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Williams F1 Chassis Repair

Williams F1’s Herculean Effort for Japan’s Race

29/03/2024

Williams F1 is swiftly preparing its second chassis for the upcoming Japan race, as directors detail the intensive repair efforts post-Melbourne crash.

Williams F1 is tirelessly working to restore its second chassis so that Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant can compete normally next weekend in Japan. James Vowles, the team’s director, details the return process of the damaged monocoque from Australia and how work is proceeding on it.

“There’s no doubt that an accident like Alex’s in Melbourne is costly,” acknowledges Vowles. “It’s time we hadn’t planned to spend working on a component, in this case, the chassis, and it lowers the system’s workload.”

“When it arrived around 2 a.m. on Monday, teams were already inside the building working on the chassis, disassembling and repairing it. The team at the circuit made sure that the factory teams were ready to start repairs immediately. A significant amount of work was done in Melbourne. There were photographs and techniques called NDT, that is, non-destructive testing.”

“There are several methods that allow us to fully understand the extent of the damage and what needs to be done. This preparation was crucial. It means that by 2 a.m. on Monday, work could begin. It wasn’t a reflection on what was happening, it was more a case of ‘this is what we’re doing and this is how we’re doing it.'”

“An additional workload”

And Vowles confirms that the team will still be able to bring its planned upgrades for Suzuka: “But the good news is that the developments we’ve planned for Japan will continue to be introduced. So, that’s good news. They are minor elements, but each will contribute to performance improvement.”

“Some downstream elements might be slightly affected, but the team is currently doing a very good job of trying to absorb the additional workload without impacting the downstream developments. Therefore, there will be elements that will appear around the sixth race, and a few other items beyond that.”

The team had hoped to have a spare chassis from the start of the season, but delays prevented this: “The initial plan for the start of the season was to have three chassis, as one might expect, from the first race.”

“This has slowly slipped to the third round, as delays have compounded. Since then, and with the work we are currently doing on chassis number 2, there will only be a minor delay.”

Vowles acknowledges his responsibility

The director blames himself, believing that all the changes he has made within the team have contributed to these execution and planning difficulties.

“The fault lies with me. We have changed so many technologies in the factory – we have changed the way we design and produce the chassis, we have changed the way we do things aerodynamically, we have changed how we add performance, the way we do upgrades.”

“We have added processes; we decided at the same time that we were going to produce three cars – not just one – and you can imagine that puts a strain on an organization.”

“At the beginning of the year, we were very open and honest – we fell a lot behind on the car because we changed a lot of things, and one of the consequences is that we were unable to manufacture an additional chassis.”

“You can’t move forward if you’re not willing to take significant risks, and that’s what we did. But the result is that you’re playing with fire, and we were caught unprepared.”

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