Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Williams FW34 Appears At Jerez

2012 Williams-Renault FW34
With the first testing day getting underway today at the Spanish circuit Jerez (that's pronounced "her-eth", by the way), Williams are finally ready to unveil their new FW34 to the world. Well, it was either that or just turn up at testing today and hope no-one notices, which is unlikely when the F1 world is so nosey. I've used this angle for the top picture because the front just looks like the 2011 nose has had a rolling pin taken to it in order to meet the new rule I've mentioned about five or six times this month. The rest of the car, though, is very pretty, with a simpler, darker version of the early '90s livery and nice curvy main body. The '90s touches don't end at white side stripes, though - unlike the last few years when they've been powered by Toyota or Cosworth, this is a Williams-Renault. People who have previously piloted a Williams-Renault include Damon Hill, David Coulthard, Nigel Mansell and Aryton Senna (if briefly). The latter name in that shortlist is causing a degree of rose-tinting in the glasses of the press, as in 2012 we have Senna in a blue Williams-Renault, alongside Pastor Maldonado, the Venezuelan pay-driver who may or may not still have braces on.

I'm not going to pretend that there's more to say about this car, as I've already gone on about pullrod suspension (this has pushers up front and pullers out back like 10 of the other 11 teams), but I will say that for one highly-praised Brazilian to take the wheel, another had to exit. Rubens Barrichello has no longer got a seat in F1, after being in the sport for nineteen straight seasons. I'm saddened that one of the nicest and most passionate guys in motorsport couldn't make it a nice round 20 seasons and has potentially left the sport for good, as it will be very hard for the 39-year-old to return to the sport in an age of young pay-drivers that can buy their way in. He has been testing an IndyCar in the mean time, so he may still get to race a top-flight single seater, but not a Formula 1 car. Despite starting 326 Grands Prix, Rubens has never won a championship, although that's mostly because his best chance to win one was when he was at Ferrari, where Michael Schumacher ended up calling the shots and Ferrari happily made Barrichello number two, a bit like like they are with Felipe Massa now that Alonso has been close to winning a championship (maybe Ferrari just don't like Brazilians?). His closest to winning the championship was actually in 2009 at Brawn GP, but with Jenson Button winning 6 of the first 7 races, and Red Bull coming on song in the second half of the season, even two race wins and many other competitive finishes weren't quite enough that year, which was followed by two lacklustre seasons at Williams. You can read more about him here. His optimism about staying in the sport meant he got no farewell party (as he didn't celebrate at the end of 2011 and was simply replaced at Williams last December) which seems unfair...

Anyway, Tuesday testing is underway, so for live timing you can go here or here, and for pictures of the FW34 and the testing session, you can go here or here.

EDIT (10:25) Also, the Caterham doesn't look so bad now. Perhaps it's because this is a real-life shot and not a studio photo, but having seen the other stepped noses, it's no worse than anyone else's:
Caterham CT01
EDIT 2 (17:00) It has come to my attention that the Red Bull RB8 has a vent in its nose bump. This may or may not have been present in the pictures/video in the previous post, and nobody knows what it's for. Popular guesses include KERS cooling, a secret air guide of some sort (the term "diffuser F-duct" popped up in one forum) or simply a dummy vent to confuse and annoy McLaren and Ferrari. Your guess is as good as mine:
2012 Red Bull RB8 testing in Jerez
More on testing later.

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