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Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Williams FW37 Previews Flaccid 2015 Grid

Images from F1 Fanatic/Williams
The Williams F1 team had a hell of a season last year. After years of scrapping for points yielded just one surprise race win (from Pastor Maldonado of all people), the new rules in 2014 coupled with getting partial factory support from master engine builder Mercedes-Benz saw the privately-owned British outfit score podium finishes in 8 of the 19 races, thanks mostly to flying Finn Valtteri Bottas but also to Ferrari refugee Felipe Massa. Although, perhaps it was all down to the newly-acquired Martini Racing go-faster stripes. After all, the relatively low-drag FW36 did regularly have the best straight-line speed, making it a hard car to overtake even in DRS zones.

However, like almost all of the cars last year, the FW36 had a phallic nose. Not the worst, but not ideal in any case. The rule-makers noticed the ridicule and have attempted to fix the problem with a new set of nose regulations that state:
  • The nose tip cross section is limited to 9,000mm², the same as 2014
  • The nose must sit 135mm-220mm above the floor, lower than last season
  • The tip must be no wider than 140mm
  • The nose must widen to a second cross section 150mm behind the tip, which itself must be no less than 20,000mm²
  • The maximum width is 330mm at this second cross-section
  • Both cross sections have to be symmetrical about the centre line (unlike last year's Lotus forklift)
  • The remaining length of the nose going back towards the chassis must have a tapering cross section (it must get wider from tip to chassis)
  • The nose tip will have to start about halfway along the front wing (unlike last year's Mercedes, where it started slightly behind the front wing)


The 2015 Williams-Mercedes FW37 (right of image) shows us the result.

Don't laugh, it's cold in January
Er, I hate to break it to you, FIA, but you've made it worse. We've gone from "finger" to "thumb," or if you're older than 11 years old, "erect" to "flaccid." They were hoping for Ferrari-style noses, but the teams have generally decided after last year that making the lowest section as narrow as possible is the best solution for getting air under and through the car to the diffuser. So they've made the same solution fit the new regulations (or at least Williams have).

Maybe when reserve driver Susie Wolff is nearby, it transforms into a 2014-spec nose? Wouldn't that count as active aero?

No, your car is not as cool as this. Even other F1 cars aren't as cool as this. Deal with it.
As for the rest of the car, the FW37 is essentially an evolution of last year, building on a car that - with a bit more luck - could've won a race against the works Mercedes cars. However, the new nose rules had a big effect on the overall aerodynamic performance of the car, according to technical head Pat Symonds. "The new front bulkhead and nose geometry had much more of an impact than we had initially anticipated and the effect on the aero was profound. The team have worked hard on pulling back the deficit these regulations have made for us," he recently said to the press. What's more, he says the team's desire to secure 3rd in the Constructor's Championship against Ferrari (a team with about double the budget and staff) lead to them putting more effort into the 2014 car in the latter phase of the season than they would have. While this could potentially compromise the 2015 car, Symonds assures us that the team had become big enough to work on both cars in parallel. Hopefully this means they can stick it to Lewis and Nico this year. Martini stripes are the coolest and deserve to be showered in victory champagne, as do nine-time constructors' champions Williams Racing.


Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas will pilot the coolest car on the grid, with Susie Wolff getting a chance to show us that she's more than just a novelty who's married her way into F1 despite never winning a single high-end motor race ever. In DTM she only managed a couple of 7th place finishes in seven years. How is she more worthy of that seat than GP2 champions and runners up, regardless of gender? You have to wonder. Still, if she can match the other two in terms of speed and consistency, there will be slightly less grounds to complain. Slightly.

Stay tuned for Force India's reveal!

UPDATE (1/2) - Images of the real car have been released:







Written for Small Blog V8. Do not copy without permission. Images from F1 Fanatic.

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