Design challenge greater than ever

Since 1977 Patrick Head has been responsible for the design of the WilliamsF1 cars. The BMW WilliamsF1 Team's Technical Director talks about his job. A modern Formula One car is a true masterpiece of technical inspiration. A huge amount of work...

Since 1977 Patrick Head has been responsible for the design of the WilliamsF1 cars. The BMW WilliamsF1 Team's Technical Director talks about his job.

A modern Formula One car is a true masterpiece of technical inspiration. A huge amount of work is involved in the design of such a vehicle. New parts are thoroughly tested in the wind tunnel and even small changes to the car's design can significantly increase the performance on the circuit.

Patrick Head.
Photo by Brousseau Photo.

As Technical Director, Patrick Head is responsible for the design of the BMW WilliamsF1 Team's cars. He admits that his work has changed over the years, "When I designed the first Williams F1 car back in 1977, the design department was made up of me and a drawing board. The approach then was more trial and error, nowadays it's a scientific process."

Computers play an important role in this process. Large amounts of data have to be processed in order to achieve the best results. "Computers are a great help," says Head, "but they have to be used by professional human beings."

A lot still comes down to the ideas and recommendations made by the design team in the design phase, which in turn determines whether a car will be successful or not. Head is a firm believer in innovations, like the radical front nose of this year's FW26. "It all comes down to one thing: an engineer, who always wants to play it safe, will not usually find anything new," he explained, "New ideas bring new problems, which need to be solved. Those who are scared, and only make minor changes, will soon be overtaken by their rivals."

Today's engineer uses different tools from those that were used by Head back when he started at WilliamsF1. "If you start to complain that things were so much better 10 years ago then it's time to find a new job," said Head, "The technical challenge is far greater now than it ever was, because we have more tools at our disposal." At the moment, all of these tools are being used to increase the performance of the WilliamsF1 BMW FW26, in time for next week's San Marino Grand Prix.

-williams-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Patrick Head
Teams Williams