Performance over beauty for Williams

Performance over beauty for Williams

The most talked about car of the winter launches was the Williams FW26, with its extended twin keel nose mounts that earned it the sobriquet of "the walrus". While many think it's an ugly looking design, team boss Frank Williams and technical ...

The most talked about car of the winter launches was the Williams FW26, with its extended twin keel nose mounts that earned it the sobriquet of "the walrus". While many think it's an ugly looking design, team boss Frank Williams and technical director Patrick Head were more interested in performance than aesthetics.

Nose of the new WilliamsF1 BMW FW26.
Photo by Sutton Motorsport Images.
"I knew there had been quite a significant step forward in the wind tunnel, which is why we did it," said Williams, according to the team website. "I wasn't that negative about it, though there was clearly a lot a fuss. It's not that pretty, but it's not ugly either, it's just the front of the car. It's all about being adventurous and creative -- having a go and taking a risk."

Head concedes that the design isn't going to win any prizes for its looks: "It's not an item of beauty but it came out on top in the wind tunnel tests and that dictates what you do," he commented. "People have focused on it because it's the nose and therefore it tends to take on a greater significance."

The focus may have been on the nose when the car was unveiled but the FW26 has other innovations that are not so obvious. "As an example, the sidepods on the FW26 are further back, instead of sloping inwards and towards the chassis," Head explained. "That required a tremendous amount of work on the monocoque for the side impact test."

The car put in some impressive performances in winter testing and although its worth will only be proved in competition, Head is confident it will improve as the year goes on. "I think the FW26 is a good car and it'll be a good foundation for developments through the year," he concluded.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Patrick Head
Teams Williams