The radical new regulations designed to make competition in Formula 1 closer set to be introduced this year may have been delayed as a result of the upheaval caused by COVID-19, but Williams still feel there may be an opportunity to make up some ground on the teams around them as F1 introduces new rules governing aerodynamics intended to provide a halfway house between 2020 and 2022.
The measures particularly address the rear floor and diffuser of the 2021 cars, where a smaller underbody and a reduced amount of sculpting will affect how air is directed through the diffuser and rear wing lessening the amount of downforce it can generate.
This is an area where teams have seen an opportunity for big gains and so have focused a lot of energy in an effort to get right – the top teams (the ones with the biggest budgets) having invested significantly more, and benefitting significantly more than the rest.
Naturally, then, the teams at the front have more to lose from an overhaul than the smaller teams who weren’t gaining all that much to start with.
Williams are one such team, who have invested less in this area, and so stand to lose less than many of the cars ahead, something that Williams’ head of vehicle performance Dave Robson hopes will aid their efforts to move up the grid.
“Hopefully it will have quite a big effect for the teams at the sharp end and perhaps less so for us” Robson told motorsport.com
“It is a major change to the floor, particularly that area close to the rear tyre”
“It is an area where we suspect we’re not class leader, let’s say, so hopefully for us it’s less of a hit than some of those other teams.”
“I think it is traditionally a very difficult area to understand, particularly how the floor will react to the tyre as it deforms and ages and wears.”
While I’m happy to hear about anything that will help Williams’ performance relative to its competition, I’m not doing cartwheels over something that is effectively benefitting Williams’ because the part being taken away was less effective on the FW43 than it was on other cars.
However, if it’s but one of a number of marginal gains that take Williams a good chunk forward in 2021 then it will be something to celebrate.