Williams F1
ROKiT Williams FW43 evolution over revolution
By Andrew Hooper
February 18 2020

 ROKiT Williams FW43 evolution over revolution

With much anticipation the ROKiT Williams team would release images of their 2020 challenger the FW43. The new car would see the team adopt a new approach to their 2020 livery with the sponsors and colours of the car bearing no real relationship to that of the 2019 predecessor. It certainly was a new look for the 2020 challenger. Given the struggle that was the 2019 season it is a positive move by the team to start afresh for the 2020 season.

After a far from impressive start to their 2019 campaign with delays on the arrival of the car to testing as well as the departure of their Technical head the start to the 2020 season has been far more positive with the car been on time even taking to the track for a shakedown prior to testing.

But the big question now is whether or not the FW43 will see Williams again be competitive. The team made it very clear that they have not totally gone down a new path in the development of the FW43 but had used the developments of the 2019 FW42 as a starting point for the FW43.

Design Director Doug McKiernan commented on this by saying: "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.

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

When comparing the 2019 FW42 with the 2020 FW43 there are similarities between the two but there are also areas when the team has addressed issues found during the 2019 season and changed design aspects of the FW43 in line with addressing the shortcomings of the FW42.

Based on the initial specifications of the FW43 as seen in its launch photos the front wing of the car is close to that which the Williams Team had developed and used in the later part of the 2019 season. The team with this wing introduced its own version of an inboard-loaded wing geometry. With this design the team was focusing on improving the airflow around the front of the car. The team has also added small changes including changes around the the end of the footplate designed to move the air upwards and outwards. The ultimate aim for this is to maximise the flow of air in and around the S Duct.

In regard to other aspects of the front wing the FW43 now has an extended cape in conjunction with vanes mounted alongside the front of the car. It is expected that this will increase the front downforce but also assist in managing the flow of air through to the bargeboards. Other changes to the front of the car consist of redesigned camera pod mountings, new small horns at the front of the chassis bulkhead which are cambered to move the airflow outwards as it comes away from the S Duct.

The front suspension components have been tidied up from the 2019 configuration. The Williams Team continues to use a pushrod designed to assist in changes to the ride height. Behind the front suspension the later part of the 2019 season saw the Williams Team spend considerable effort in the design of the bargeboards and turning vanes. This has seen the team continue with a similar configuration but like other parts of the car the details have been improved over the 2019 model. On top of the now widely adopted boomerang there are six flow conditioners which control the flow of air towards the sidepod undercut, with the aim of improving flow to the rear of the car.

The sidepods have also been changed considerably from 2019 with a channel over the top which is designed to move the air towards the floor and out through the now considerable tightened up Coke bottle section and onto the diffuser section of the rear of the car. They have also been able to introduce a far smaller inlet to the radiators inline with most other F1 cars. The engine cover has a larger shark-fin which would seem to indicate that the team has been able to tighten up the rear packaging around the engine thus improving the flow of air over this part of the car. Overall the rear section of the car is maybe not as refined as others cars but certainly a step forward compared to the 2019 model. At the side of the floor there also are additional cuts also aiming to improve the airflow around the diffuser.

At the rear of the car that George Russell used for the shakedown there was a squared-off T-wing attached to the base of the engine cover. The rear wing is very similar to last years but the endplates have adopted a similar design seen on the Red Bull with a single strake rather than the trio seen on the Williams in 2019. There are also additional cuts at the bottom of the endplate to control the airflow at the rear of the car. Considering all the improvements over the 2019 model that the FW43 brings it would seem that the Williams team has made an increased effort to improve their aerodynamic configuration with the aim of resolving the issues that made last year's car such a disappointment.

McKiernan added: "There has been a healthy development rate in the wind tunnel and we have found reasonable improvements in the cooling efficiency. 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."

As for whether all these changes that have come with the FW43 will see the Williams Team make a significant step forward is yet to be seen but it should allow the team to challenge for points more than they did in 2019, which was a year that saw the Williams realistically never in a position to challenge for a top ten finish. I do like the step forwards that the team has made now it all comes down to whether they had found that improved pace to at least challenge other cars rather than finishing several laps behind.