Compare Williams’ new FW40 with their 2016 car

2017 F1 season

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Williams has issued the first renderings of its 2017 F1 car today, giving us our first proper look at the outcome of Formula One’s much-vaunted new regulations.

As is always the case teams do not want to give away major details of their new designs until they need to run them on the track. More aerodynamic details are likely to appear on the FW40 during the tests which begin a week from Monday.

However the changes in the aerodynamic rules for 2017 are profound and easy to see when images of the new and old cars are placed side-by-side.

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2017 Williams FW40 and 2016 Williams FW38: Front view

The wider and lower rear wing is the most striking difference between these front-on images of the cars.

2016 and 2017 F1 car designs compared
Due to the angle of the images it is not as easy to distinguish the overall increase in width of the car’s body and front wing. However the wider floor and increased space between the sidepod airflow conditioners gives away the growth in size.

The considerably wider front and rear tyres are also clear to see. Those larger wheels also mean thicker, stronger suspension arms to deal with the increased forces involved.

One key change in the 2017 rules intended to improve the appearance of the cars is the introduction of a ‘delta’ shaped front wing, whereas before it was straight. Williams appears to have chosen a similar style for its rear wing. However the aesthetic revolution has not been extended to the noses, where the unsightly ‘thumb tip’ remains.

Another striking change to the car is the much wider air intake for the engine. This may be following a trend set by their engine suppliers Mercedes last year.

2017 Williams FW40 and 2016 Williams FW38: Three-quarter view

Williams FW40, 2017
Williams FW38, 2016

Williams FW40 – first pictures
Williams has been careful not to give the game away with its plans for the FW40. These first glimpses reveals the lower, wider car which was expected but also show Williams have done more than just adapt last year’s design to fit the new rules.

2017 F1 season

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Author information

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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71 comments on “Compare Williams’ new FW40 with their 2016 car”

  1. I love this kind of articles!!Keep it up!

    1. Yes, although this one really is pointless. Honestly the FW40 isn’t going to look anything like in this cgi images. Only the livery and the aforementioned large air intake will be the same.

      1. actually it will look like this, with slight aero changes as usual, from race to race, the actual proportions are correct for the entire car.

  2. Not as big a diffrence in “aggressiveness” (or whatever else defines visual appeal) as they all hyped it up to be, but does like better. I think the proportions are much more elegant in 2017

  3. Not sure if it is the angle of the picture, but I noticed that the sidepod air intake is smaller compared to last years car. Also is the engine cover/sidepods more stretched towards the rear of the car? The way “Rexona” curves around that part is at least different.

    I really like the shape of the front wing, it looks much quicker (from an aesthetic point of view).

    1. Seems like they are indeed smaller. OTOH the top intake is quite a bit larger.

    2. Looking at the RH side pod intake, it does look about the same size, they may be shunted over slightly to the centre of the car making them appear a little smaller…

      1. I didn’t pick up on that at first, but I see what you mean now @maddme . It still looks more trim with less of a droop at the lower part of the intake. Wonder if it’s a Merc copy or if there has been movement in some of the cooling features underneath the covers..
        Looks quicker to me (with my years of F1 armchair aero experience lol!)

        1. Also the front A arm is bigger. I’m guessing to support the extra force and weight of the new rubber. Or they’re anticipating a Stroll start to the season…

    3. To me they seem to be the same size, but perspective makes it smaller as there is the car’s floor which is much wider with nothing on top of it. No aero, no bodywork, just a flat panel. If they’re concerned about looks, that should be one to look at (removing). It seems odd

  4. I love the fact that the cars are coming back to their PROPER width. A racing car has to be wide in order to look powerful and fast, doesn’t it?
    However, what somewhat (ironically) diminishes the visual impact of the increased car width is the increased width of the front tyres. Because of this, the front forks won’t be much wider/wider, and so the car appears to be just proportionally larger, rather than wider. The most striking difference might be…. the driver’s helmet looking smaller ;)
    Obviously, the tyres have not increased in diameter, so we will perceive the cars as wider after all.

    1. What goes for the back of the car and the back view – the cars look 1000x times better – with no asterisks ;)

      1. I remember in 2009 or whatever it was, many people loved the wing going back to a taller wing, now it is going back to a previously hated low wing, and people like you are loving it!

    2. The front tyre width will, however, produce much more front end grip, which in turn should make the cars faster through those corners

  5. Love it.. can’t wait to see more.

    1. That makes two of us

  6. It does look good, very elegant but I have to say I’m a little disappointed in how similar it looks to the ’16 car. I’m hoping some other teams have taken some more bold design choices as this fell a little flat, had to look twice before I realised it was this years car and not last years.

    1. @Woodyd91 I bet you also discussed the pro’s and Cons of the carbon fiber exhaust on the Mercedes engine when they released renderings 2-3 years ago.

      Come on guys, this is a pre-launch rendering… not Melbourne spec race car.

      1. pre-launch renderings are accurate… this car wont suddenly change to look like an Indycar… it will look the same with very slight aero changes on wings.

  7. How did Williams manage to make it look so similar to last year’s?

    1. Michael Brown (@)
      17th February 2017, 18:48

      They’ve done it two years in a row now

  8. The Blade Runner (@)
    17th February 2017, 10:46

    Firstly, a fantastic article @keithcollantine – as always. How you turn these things around so quickly from press release to producing your article I’ll never know!

    As for the car… hmmmm. It’s hardly the revolution I was expecting/hoping for.

    Given teams’ caution in not revealing too much of their cars at this stage I will reserve judgement. Hopefully seeing them in the flesh at testing will prove far more exciting.

  9. Meh.

    That is all.

    1. Couldn’t agree more. One of the most underwhelming ‘launches’ in a very long time. I was genuinely excited to see how the cars have changed, but this just looks like a modified ’16 car (which, I suppose it is at this point).

      Still, haven’t we heard by a few people that the ugly noses had finally been banished? What a load of cod’s wallop that turned out to be. Disappointing.

      1. @ecwdanselby

        Still, haven’t we heard by a few people that the ugly noses had finally been banished?

        I don’t remember it being addressed in the rules – who was saying they were going to be changed?

        1. Adam Cooper, apparently:

          A lot of the mock up designs seemed to include a Mercedes style nose, but alas, they are just mock ups.

          Looks like Renault have gone for the ugly nose option, too. Not looking good.

      2. I think it was one of the team bosses said that about the noses because they had seen that specific team’s car under construction, don’t remember who it was though. They weren’t talking about the noses for all the teams so maybe we’ll see a mix of the short noses and some new ones.

      3. I must have read that article at some point too. I was excited to see F1 cars with out the nose pimple, it honestly ruins the look of the car in my opinion.

      4. Just because the 2016 nose is in this image doesn’t mean it is going to be used! They may not want to reveal a new nose until the first test.

        1. an uglier nose?

  10. This will be a diluted version of the car that starts the first race. I think the end result will look drastically different to last year (including the nose) but there’s no need for Williams to show their full hand yet. This is just the equivalent of an an F1 lap dance

    1. Excactly, Williams are not showing most of what will end up on the race car ..

    2. by diluted you mean it will look like 99% of the car that is shown now.. subtle aero changes do not make the car “as a whole” look so different to most viewers.

  11. I love the short rear wing. Last year’s wing height looks ungainly in comparison.

    1. I remember 10 years ago the same comments as yours when they changed from short to tall rear wings. people just like change.

  12. Looks a tad better but color me underwhelmed and speaking of color I know it’s the martini livery and all but it could do with a more ‘busy’ color scheme overall the car. So much monotonous white just reminds me of a beached whale or something.

    1. As most teams compared to 10 years (or even 5 years) ago, Williams hardly has any sponsors to ‘fill it up’ with. They could have done with a make-over of the Martini livery though. It’s exactly the same as the previous two years, which is underwhelming.

      1. @jeffreyj I suspect the extent of the Martini livery is limited by how much they’ve paid, so the unoccupied areas of the car can remain free for other potential sponsors.

  13. Wow, take the wings off and you got yourself a race car. Leave em on and you got yourself an aeroplane. Let’s see how airplanes work this year? Sad they sped sooo many millions on wind tunnels. They just refuse to give it up for that reason alone. Sorry, no such thing as Santa Clause either. But you can still keep trying to believe.

    1. I don’t understand this sort of comment. F1 is an engineering challenge, and it always has been. The reason that F1 cars are the fastest in the world is because of the money and engineering resources pumped into the sport. For me, I find F1 interesting because of the racing, the politics, and the engineering. If you only want racing then something like IndyCar is probably a better fit. There is a reason that the constructors’ championship awards money instead of the drivers’, and that is because F1 is primarily an engineering competition. The drivers are simply the last in a long line of people who influence the performance of the car.

      1. yet sadly pound for pound, WEC with its heavier cars has the best technology today, and perhaps faster lap times than f1 when you compare laptime/weight of car, and take into consideration other things like tyres and aero.

    2. I was told you almost have to have aerofoils on a car like this because the wheels actually generate lift and the car will become airborne at the speeds F1 cars go. I do wonder if that is in part because of the air pressure right in front where they tyre touches the road. I know it sounds ludicrous, but maybe these tyres would perform better if they had tread on them, so the air can escape under the tyre instead of having to go around the side. This, in turn, could reduce the energy lost due to the wave motion induced in the air by the tyre at speed.

      1. @drycrust, it is a consequence of the fact that you have an exposed rotating tyre in a free air stream – when you have a rotating cylinder in a free airstream, the resultant turbulent wake that forms behind the cylinder when the boundary layer begins to detach from it creates a lift effect (I would recommend looking for articles on the Magnus effect to learn more about that phenomenon). Putting grooves on the tyre would not have much of an impact (the uneven tyre profile might even create additional turbulence, and therefore lift, than before).

        1. Thanks, I’ll have a look at that tomorrow.

    3. take the wings off??? single seaters for the last 40-50 years have had wings, and they have still looked like race cars… because they …ummm….are race cars…. #BIZARRE RACE CAR COMMENT

  14. The slider on the comparison is a game changer @keithcollantine! I’ve seen it in other articles, but this is the first time I’ve stopped to actually use it. Very useful.

    1. @sward28 Thanks very much!

  15. Well I think it looks a bit more ‘butch’ than last year’s car. The only thing I’n not sure about is the toast rack on top of the sidepod! Is that another air intake?

    1. No, it’s to stop Felipe’s toast falling over. All part of the mind games at car-launch time.
      Would have gone well with a 70s tea tray front wing.

  16. Why did they skip the FW39 name?

      1. How come it’s not already FW40 then please @keithcollantine? Did they have a year where they used the same car as the previous year?

        1. @3dom Actually the ‘FW’ designation pre-dates the what Williams consider the first race of the current team which is the 1977 Spanish Grand Prix. And in that race there was no ‘FW’ car on the grid: Williams Grand Prix Engineering, as they were called at the time, entered a sole March 761 for Patrick Neve.

          The first ‘FW’ car, FW01, appeared two years previously. It was entered by Frank Williams Racing Cars for Arturo Merzario at the 1975 Argentinian Grand Prix. However that team was later sold to Walter Wolf (no relation to Toto; just one ‘f’).

          Since their arrival in 1977, and like many of the other teams which have been around for a few decades, Williams haven’t always incremented their design numbers by one per season. For instance the successful FW07 series was used between 1979 and 1982, the FW11 series brought more silverware in 1986-87 and from 1991 to 1992 the team used FW14 and its active suspension derivative FW14B.

          But it seems there’ll be no FW39, which will make for a good quiz question in a few years’ time…

          1. Wow. Cheers @keithcollantine. Ace knowledge :-)

          2. @3dom I have to admit I didn’t do that all from memory! Checked a few things to make sure I wasn’t giving any ‘alternative’ facts.

  17. Suddenly it’s 1997 again! (Meaning the correct ratios are back- not that a Canadian in a Williams will dominate qualifying!)

    1. hopefully an Australian in redbull will.. talent first.

  18. I would like an even wider rear wing and just push the front wing and nose a little bit to the back. Still it looks good, specially from the bak.

  19. That’s the best looking back of a f1 car in the last 20 years. Finally like a proper F1.

  20. Not excited by the new look…been sold a load of hype. But I am totally impressed with the 2016/17 slider picture. Well done Mr. Colltraine & Co.

    1. You’re welcome Pibby :-)

      1. Great work, Keith!

        Overall it’s a better looking car. Also approve of the much simplified front wings which won’t be disturbed by dirty air….oh wait…

      2. @keithcollantine I very much appreciated that xD

  21. Love these side by side slider comparisons, Keith.

    Can you address what appears to me to be significant changes in the front suspension arms, etc? Thanks!

  22. First impression was that someone had sat on last year’s car…

    Cars will look the same as last year, but with less overtaking :-(

  23. Nose: I dont know if the new regulations on the real car will show more/other nose than the render. My opinion: will be more wider, just a bluff at this point of season because its a everchanging item.

    Air Intake Low/high: There is a compensation, more air to the high intake, less on the two low. Weight balance?

    Overall Lines: More clean from the engine to the nose. Simplificated by the concept render? I guess so. Will see the real deal on launch. They need to be more angled from the nose to match a sequential line from the Rear Wing.

    Front Wing: Design looking for more downforce, something that Mercedes already has. Can Willians come together?

    Rear Wing: Some fan and specialists renderings show a less complex angle and shape. This could be the trick from the anothers, unless (and they will) test this kind of shape until Australia.

    Overall Impression: Sleak, Contained Design, tend to be funcional (gripped car). Can the chassis win the straight speed battle as well 2013 when was a new regulation? So much questions to answer.

  24. Looks almost exactly the same! The rules have just been twiddled slightly

  25. I thought the flow conditioners had to slope forward this year? Did that rule change?

  26. Ha ha Fake news

  27. @keithcollantine the side by side comparison is really nice, I simply love it! If one day you have a chance to enable a full screen mode, that will help moving this feature from “truly awesome” to… well… beyond any word.

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