Williams admits it is “hard to hide” from the aerodynamic weaknesses highlighted by its contrasting levels of performance in the recent Formula 1 double-header in Spain and Monaco.
Spain was a bad weekend for Williams, who comfortably had the slowest car on one of F1’s most aero-dependent circuits.
Although the Monaco Grand Prix weekend did not go well for Williams, his car was noticeably stronger on a track where the mechanical package is a bigger part of the equation.
Alex Albon probably would have made Q2 had it not been for the first red flag in qualifying and showed glimpses of promising pace at points in the race before retiring.
But despite Williams’ struggles in Monaco, it was clear that the car’s underlying performance was better than in Spain – even more so than the times over the front would suggest.
“It’s a little hard to hide that after having the contrast between Monaco and Spain, who are probably the two completely opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of downforce sensitivity,” said performance manager Dave Robson. vehicles, when asked by The Race about Williams’ aerodynamic weakness.
“[In Monaco] the car behaved quite well. It’s always a little tricky with the tyres, but it’s probably the same for everyone and clearly any extra downforce you have doesn’t hurt you in that department. But otherwise the car behaved pretty well.
“Spain has probably confirmed what we were already suspicious of.”
Williams has yet to introduce any major upgrade packages this year, although the car has gradually evolved and efforts have also been made to reduce weight. This included removing paint from the car.
But Robson is certain there are performance boosts to come, although exactly when they’ll be rolled out depends on when the go-ahead is given to start manufacturing the components.
Robson said Williams is likely to decide this week when that happens, but any upgrades will almost certainly only appear after the upcoming double-header from Baku and Montreal. This is a logical decision given that they are two low tracking force circuits.
Coin losses in Monaco will influence this decision. Although Nicholas Latifi damaged a front wing under the safety car and Albon developed an unspecified issue that led to what the team called “unexpected bouncing on the straights”, Williams at least passed the weekend without any major incident. This means that he should have the manufacturing capacity to produce new parts if he decides to continue.
“There’s a decent amount of stuff that looks good in the wind tunnel,” Robson said. “The big question is, with cost containment, when do you commit what’s in the tunnel to the real car, or do you just hang on hoping there’s still a big step to go. cross in the tunnel that you can capture?
“There are some good directions and things that would definitely make the car faster, but we’re still figuring out exactly when to commit this to manufacturing.
“For the next two races, we are going back to completely different, more low downforce type circuits. I don’t think there will be any major car upgrades for this pair of flyaways.
“And then how soon after that we decide to deliver the package is something we could probably decide this week [beginning May 30].”
Like many teams, Williams had to be wary of porpoising issues, with Robson admitting the car could go a little faster if it rolled lower, but not in lasting condition. Together with its rivals, Williams is therefore working to find an aerodynamic solution that will allow it to ride lower.
However, he doesn’t think that’s his only problem, with the pursuit of more downforce being a key objective.
“There are physical limits to how deep we can go,” Robson said.
“In Spain if we had lowered it further we would have triggered the porpoising and that usually makes the car slower just because the drivers can’t see and the grip is inconsistent because of that.
“It also makes the board at the bottom of the car hit the ground quite hard. It is therefore necessary to pay close attention to the legal wear limits.
“The question is, can we do something aerodynamic to allow us to lower it for a given porpoising risk? That’s the part we’re working on.
“Potentially there is something to learn from what Mercedes have done because it looks like they were able to lower their car given some of the changes they made in Spain.
“I’m sure there’s a bit more to them to improve their pace, but there’s probably something we can do aerodynamically to allow the car to ride lower and increase its performance by this way.
“But in terms of our overall aero problem, there’s probably a bit more to it than just running the car low.
“We could drop it legally for a short run in training and I think we would go faster, but not in a sustainable way for the run, and not by an amount that would make us suddenly steal the timesheets.
“There’s more than that.”