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Williams F1 Chooses Innovation Over Imitation

Williams F1 Chooses Innovation Over Imitation

23/02/2024

James Vowles emphasizes innovation in Williams F1’s strategy, rejecting the trend of mimicking rivals’ designs for genuine progress.

James Vowles, Williams F1 Team Principal, believes his squad should not succumb to the easy allure of copying other F1 teams’ designs in its quest to rekindle its own spiral of success.

Several teams have drawn inspiration from the RB19 for their latest designs, notably McLaren and Ferrari, while Red Bull has taken a markedly different approach with the RB20 to allow for further development leeway.

Williams FW46: Originality in Design

Williams was the last team to unveil its car on the track before preseason testing, although it had focused on its design early last year. The FW46 retains certain features from its rivals, but Vowles makes it clear this was not intentional on the design team’s part.

“Yes, you’ll recognize some features from other successful F1 cars, but to be clear, it’s not a copy.”

“What I’ve made clear with our design team is that everything must be done through experimentation, design, testing, then implementation. If that iteratively evolves towards something like the other cars, then fine. But the ultimate goal is to find success by forging our own path.”

“What we’re not going to do is copy other cars and then try to understand their flow dynamics, only to revert to more fundamental principles. These are evolutions because that’s always the case in F1; it’s too difficult to deviate too far from a basic concept that everyone shares.”

One of the FW46’s most intriguing areas is its rear suspension, maintaining the pull-rod design from last year.

Williams F1 Stands Unique with Design

This makes it the only team alongside Ferrari and Haas to stick with this design, while others have followed Red Bull’s lead and opted for a push-rod rear suspension to increase the diffuser area.

Mercedes has also chosen this for the W15, necessitating a gearbox redesign. Aston Martin followed suit, but Williams, which also uses Mercedes gearboxes, kept last year’s setup to fit its current package.

Reusing older parts also offers a cost cap benefit, allowing more budget to be allocated to other areas where the car needs more performance.

“The gearbox is supplied by Mercedes, and obviously I know it very well; it’s a reliable gearbox and provides a good foundation to work from,” explains Vowles.

“In terms of importance to us, it’s just a known entity. Essentially, the gearbox is no longer the performance driver it once was. It doesn’t make a huge difference.”

Williams F1 Chooses Innovation Over Imitation. Williams F1 Chooses Innovation Over Imitation

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