Testing suggests Williams are best of the rest

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Every off-season period usually sees one team putting in a string of quick times and generating a buzz that they will be racing for wins in the forthcoming season.

This year the buzz is all around Williams. Nico Rosberg got his first peek at the FW30 in August last year and said he re-signed for the team on the strength of the car. Among its features are a trick diffuser and an on-board camera mounting that is apparently designed to generate downforce!

It looks like Rosberg may have made a spot on call. The team are the toast of testing, splashed across the front of today’s Autosport with the headline “New Williams to rock F1”. Are they dark horses for a win in 2008?

Clever camera

How cool is this?:

Aiding the bridge wing are new nose fins attached to the nose cone. Like several other teams, Williams has used the maximum width allowed for the fins and then added the TV camera on the end, making the device wider than otherwise possible, but still within the rules.

Although the camera is of a fixed teardrop cross-section it can provide a small aerodynamic benefit along the with the fins in flattening the flow coming off the front wing before it passes over the rear of the car.

This is Autosport’s Craig Scarborough on the FW30 (subscription required). F1 teams are required by the rules to fit onboard cameras to their cars.

I don’t know if anyone’s done this before but it’s so smart, cheeky and typically F1 to turn a requirement like that into something that makes the car go faster – even if only a little bit.

Reworked Ferrari diffuser

Williams’ aerodynamicist Jon Tomlinson said of the new car, “we decided to make a few conceptual changes to unlock some extra potential.” The rear diffuser is an example of that, according to Scarborough.

Last year Williams’ FW29 had a diffuser similar to Ferrari’s, with side channels separate from the central diffuser to maximise the airflow – similar to what BMW have developed on the F1.08. However Williams have taken the idea further this year by widening the top of the central diffuser, further increasing the airflow.

These days there is seldom a single ‘golden bullet’ that unlocks the key to making a car faster. But Williams’ aggressive diffuser development shows how far they are going and how confident the team is in its push for performance.

Testing times

The FW30 was fast on its debut at Valencia but the team ran into problems with wing failure at Catalunya, Kazuki Nakajima suffering a big crash. At Jerez this week with a revised front wing the team were still quick – Nico Rosberg was the fourth-quickest driver of the entire test with a 1’19.091.

Following the test Sam Michael said:

We’ve got a good reference but we’re definitely not quick enough to go and win Grands Prix, which is what our target is. We’re still far enough from McLaren and Ferrari that we need to take some big steps to compete with them.

They may not be about to win a race but if they’ve jumped ahead of BMW and Renault into third place they’ve made excellent progress.

More on 2008 F1 testing

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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15 comments on “Testing suggests Williams are best of the rest”

  1. Great to see what looks like a Williams revival, especially with Rosberg leading it. No surprise that they’re challenging again, though, as Williams have always known how to win, they’ve just lost their way slightly.

  2. Watch out for Red Bull Racing. See the times this week for both Coulthard and Webber. When they did their fast runs both were around 1m 18.5 secs. Apart from McLaren no one else broke the 1m 19.0secs lap. They aslo covered a lot of laps, suggesting reliability improvements.

  3. The battle for the third podium spot looks to be entertaining this season judging from winter testing so far.

    Williams,Red Bull & Renault look to be catching up,with BMW falling back a bit.

  4. I’d love to see Williams back in the fight. It seems that the most interesting fight to watch this year will be the one between Renault, BMW, Red Bull and Williams

    I agree with derek. Watch out for Red Bull, they are going fast and, which is more important, they are finishing the days without mechanical problems… :)

    Damn, i wanna see them on track at Melbourne!

  5. Also… Watch out for Nakajima!! He’s preforming incredibly good!! He might be the surprise this year!

  6. Nakajima is a pleasant surprise, or at least is a good indication that Williams’ car is really good. If only Rosberg had a consistent pace, doubt would remain over the performance, whether it was more down to his incredible potential, than to his machinery…

    Is good for the sport to see a team like Williams on its way back to the top, and escaping from Lotus and Tyrrell’s ultimate destiny.

    At least for the last twenty years, I can’t remember when the three greats (Ferrari, McLaren and Williams) where a match for each other at the same season. I know 2008 won’t be that, but perhaps in 2009 we can dream with a classic three-way battle for the Construtcors championship!

  7. Williams climbing back up the grid is great news for Formula 1 …It shows that good set, clever people and efficiency can more than compensate for the budget difference between them at let’s say Toyota. Money is a useless tool if you do not know how to spend it …

    Williams, Renault, BMW – there seems to be not much between them. Not sure how good the Red Bull is, their times may have something to do with empty fuel tanks … Or not …

    It can be exciting to have Nico Rosberg and Fernando Alonso on track in similarly good cars … Nakajima looks like he really wants to grab the opportunity presented to him….

  8. I say, Toyota should sell off their assets and fund Williams instead! Ala McLaren-Mercedes. Toyota does their engine, Williams does the winning.

    Speaking of which, it shows how good an engine that Toyota really is. It’s just that its true potential is hidden by their duff of a chassis.

  9. Am just happy that after their struggle of last 4 years, they perhaps are back to the front. They are renowned for their engineering expertise. Lets roll it out once again…

    Applause for Sir FW and Patrick Head!!! All the media wondered whether they will be back, what with sponsorship woes and all. Nice to have to back sir, it is nice!

  10. geez… i meant to say… “Nice to have you back sir, it is nice!”

  11. Its great to see Williams getting back to where they belong, up at the sharp end. This is going to be their best season in a long time. Bring on the racing!

  12. What a turn around from the woes of 2006, Williams certainly look to be on the up!
    But they’ve got to keep this great development pace if they to get to (or stay…) 3rd best team…BMW, Renault and Red Bull will be on their tails.

  13. So happy to see Williams picking up the pace. Rosberg is one of the best on the grid in my opinion so with a good car I reckon we could be the best of the rest, especially if he qualifies like he did last year! :D

  14. It is still only testing.

  15. Very good to see Williams on the upswing- it may be difficult for any teams to challenge the top two teams, but everyone needs to start somewhere. I have heard good things about Red Bull as well, while BMW have failed to impress from what i’ve seen, so I suppose it will be an interesting battle in the early races.

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