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Williams's plunge to the back of the Formula 1 field in 2018 has been dramatic. Pat Symonds explains how things can go so badly awry with an F1 design, and why finding the way again mid-season is so difficult
One of the surprising aspects of this year has been the astonishing lack of performance from Williams and McLaren - and, at the beginning of the season, Force India. People often wonder how, with the incredible array of technology available to the teams, performance drop-offs like this are possible. They're not just confined to the lesser-funded teams; in 2015 Red Bull produced a car that didn't begin to show the team's normal potential until mid-season.
So what can be the reason? The first thing to remember is that a Formula 1 car needs to be thought of in system engineering terms. Performance isn't a function of any single aspect of those inter-related systems. Wise choices at the design stage, together with a full understanding of the influence of certain parameters on lap time and straight line speed at different circuits, pay dividends throughout the season.
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