“No fundamental changes” in Williams’s new FW43

2020 F1 season

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Williams says its new FW43 retains the “core architecture” of its troubled 2019 car, which scored just one point, having concentrated on their aerodynamic programme during the off-season.

“We have paid significant attention to understanding the problem areas of the FW42 and we have carefully chosen parts of the car to develop, those that would give us the most performance for the resources we have,” said design director Doug McKiernan after the first images of the car were presented today.

“The main concept behind the FW43 is that it is a continuous development of the FW42, with no fundamental concept changes to the layout.” he explained.

The team is eager to see improvements in the correlation between its models of the car and how it performs on-track.

“The most important indicator that we are on the right path will be the level of correlation we have between the tool kit we use to design the car and what the track data is telling us,” said McKiernan. “There has been a healthy development rate in the wind tunnel, and we have found reasonable improvements in the cooling efficiency.”

Other specific problems with the FW42 have been tackled in the new design, said McKiernan.

Williams FW43, 2020
The team has concentrated on the FW43’s aerodynamics
“The team has addressed the mechanical issues that affected it in 2019, these include the brakes and the overall weight of the car. We have made some good progress across these areas and will continue to focus on them during the season.”

Following its troubled start to 2019, when the FW42 wasn’t ready for the start of pre-season testing, chief technical officer Paddy Lowe departed the team and changes were made in the engineering department.

“The initiatives that we put in place to drive performance across all disciplines within the engineering department are evident in the design and development of the FW43,” said chief engineer Adam Carter. “It’s been great to see the hard work starting to pay off.

“The decision to retain some of the core architecture of the FW42 means there has been less resource invested in developing new concepts, which in turn has rewarded the design team with greater bandwidth to optimise their work, evident in both packaging and component detail.

[smr2020test]”By preserving some key parameters, it has allowed for an uninterrupted development programme within [the] aerodynamics [department] in order to maximise the efficiency of the resources. As we head towards the pre-season tests and then onto the race season, the most important measure will be the progress relative to our peers, along with our intention of continuing our recent record of reliability.”

The new car will run for the first time today at the Circuit de Catalunya, according to Williams.

“Later this week we will be looking at our single timed lap pace, our long run pace and the feedback from the drivers to understand where we are and what we do next,” said Carter.

“We have teams, both at the track and back at Grove, that will be delving into all aspects that define that lap time during the pre-season tests to ensure we are in the best possible place ahead of the first race in Australia.”

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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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19 comments on ““No fundamental changes” in Williams’s new FW43”

  1. When a car was as fundamentally flawed as the Williams was, one does have to wonder how Williams expect to not be last by keeping the “core” of the car the same. I can only assume this was a monetary decision or a deliberate choice to throw this season in the bin and just make the 2021 car instead. I hope it’s the latter, but irregardless, one has to feel for George and Nicolas, as well as the five test drivers, here.

    1. They are aiming for 2021, surely. This one just has to keep them alive for 12 months, and Latifi’s money goes a decent way toward covering what Kubica contributed last season.

  2. “We have paid significant attention to understanding the problem areas of the FW42 and we have carefully chosen parts of the car to develop, those that would give us the most performance for the resources we have,” said design director Doug McKiernan

    That is very straightforward. ‘Carefully’ here means those that do not consume a significant amount of resources. While the average would not expect the outfit to do any better than last season, i am glad that they are beginning to foresee progress in certain areas.

  3. I suppose this was the safer option: rather than going for a completely new concept, and most likely new problems and issues, they opted to developed the previous one, and they should at least be familiar with its short-comings. However, I can’t see Williams making much progress this way, as the gap to the other cars was so large last year.

    1. Indeed @kaiie, and more so when reading behind the text here strongly suggests that going for the new concept last year was above their capability, they surely should be careful to redo that this year. But, also, have to agree with most here as well that we cannot more then them being a more consistent distance behind the rest, and maybe hope for them to claw some of it back over the year as they work on this car.

  4. In the era of digital models, CFD and the good old wind tunnel, that should be a textbook example of correlation issues… 3.5sec off the pace, with a Mercedes PU bolted on?

    If that is fixed, there’s no guarantees, but it must help them a lot for 2021.

  5. I think the weight is the key thing with the old car. They had to run through crash tests multiple times to pass the FW42, and I think the fixes for that would’ve added weight and could have potentially caused aero issues as well due to the profile of them at short-notice (lack of time to do full CFD profiling, etc.). If they were short of funds to get new parts to replace damaged ones, I doubt they wanted to make even more for crash test approval, even if you’re allowed to do that in-season for some of the parts, so it’d have to wait for this season to update them.

    I hope they get out of Q1 at least in the first few races – some small successes to show they’re going the right way. It can’t help morale when you’re only able to fight your teammate for position every race.

    As for Merc power – I’d be surprised if the PU is outputting the same for Williams as it is for Merc, purely because I’d expect Williams to be running slightly more conservatively to prevent failures due the the costs associated with it. Obviously not 3 seconds worth though!

  6. “The main concept behind the FW43 is that it is a continuous development of the FW42, with no fundamental concept changes to the layout.” he explained.

    As a Williams fan who can clearly remember when cars with “FW” chassis denominations were dominating races in a way that makes Mercedes recent form look like the 1982 season, all I could do when I read this was say “uh oh”. The FW42 was fundamentally flawed and way off the pace, so to hear that its core layout will be carried into the FW43 is worrying to say the least. I hope I’m wrong, but I’m getting the sense that 2020 will be another survival year for Williams with all of their focus going into the 2021 season.

    Also, the livery is a bit meh. Red and Williams don’t ever seem to be good bedfellows, but I can;t help but think that this would have been better if it didn’t have the blue bits on it.

    1. Agreed @geemac, It got my mind thinking that they may have tried doing what Racing point/Force India had done in using a monocoque for two seasons to save costs for them. It very well could be called a ‘core architecture’ piece but still allow shuffling of hardware and aero features around it. Surely with the crash tests being similar to last year, and stable regulations, it’s the largest cost saver of a ‘new’ car?

      I hope they make it to 2022! The grid without a Williams would be a huge shame, and who would be able to fill the void?!

  7. This just makes sense for Williams. Last year’s car was crap but at least they’ve had a year to understand it.

    They could have tried a new concept and got it just as wrong but then they’d be stuck with a car that’s crap, that they don’t understand, and will take another 6 months development they can’t afford to get within 2 seconds of the next slowest team.

    With their limited resources it’s better to do they best they can with this one and switch as quickly as possible to the 2021 car.

    1. @mattj I’m with you on this one. Williams are clearly putting all discretionary effort into the year in which they have the better chance.

  8. At first glance, with the new livery, the car very much reminded me of the FW21 from 1999.

  9. I’m not going to say anything.

  10. last years car was hugely over weight. aero and other problems aside the weight was costing them a second a lap. hopefully some of their manufacturing sacred cows have been sacrificed too. their old ways were costing them performance and they knew it

    1. @guitargraham metal gearbox casing one of the main reasons for this. Could have used an entire Mercedes gearbox but noooooooo Claire wanted to keep it in house and at the back of the field evidently.

      1. that was one thing that immediately sprung to mind, yes

      2. I agree with Williams to an extent. They don’t want to lose some in house ability in engineering. But it is costing them in performance. The challenge for a traditional racing establishment is, how do you go racing in the midst of extremely competitive teams without simply re-branding an out sourced car.
        One has to respect their need for independence at the same time balance that with some pragmatism.

        1. Well said OOliver,RB13 and @guitargraham, have to agree with all of that; it really reads like the 2019 was too ambitious for them with their set up and structure, and it resulted in a car that wasn’t finished, perhaps not executed they way they intended/designed it, polished or understood.

          If this is a bug fixed version of that, at least they can be consistent, and that might help them know where they start the weekend, and how to get the best out of the car – something that we have seen them get to on occasions last year when Russell was able to fight for Q2, but without any promise or understanding that it would carry over – which might see them claw some of the huge deficit back, even if retaining the basic design means they will still be some way ‘back’ from the rest of the field.

          And hopefully learn from all of that so that 2021 is indeed their hoped for, promised, long awaited (start to a) road to(wards) return.

  11. greater bandwidth to optimise their work

    Feel’s like that’s like optimising a hammer design when the rest of the teams have pneumatic nail guns.

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