Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis
Topic

Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis

How Williams has tamed its peaky F1 car

Williams came in to the 2021 Formula 1 season bracing itself for a rollercoaster season thanks to its car’s peaky aero characteristics.

How Williams has tamed its peaky F1 car
Listen to this article

Having already been through somewhat of a lean spell over the last few years in its fight to move off the bottom of the standings, its drivers were well aware of a wind sensitivity issue that made their car difficult to drive at times.

However, with fresh impetus and without the burden of designing an all-new chassis, Williams actually made some swift progress in putting the issue behind it.

Furthermore, a fairly sizeable upgrade introduced at the French Grand Prix helped unlock more of the car’s latent potential, and laid the foundations for its Q3 form in Austria.

Here we take a look at the upgrade that’s contributed to this upturn in performance.

Williams FW43B bargeboard comparison

Williams FW43B bargeboard comparison

Starting with the bargeboard cluster, the team didn’t feel the need to totally revamp the entire design.

Instead each of the alterations are about tuning the airflow to get a better response from them and deal with the wind sensitivity issue that the drivers mentioned in the early part of the season.

The outwash fins mounted on top the multi element footplate have been increased in number, not only in the stack that were already in situ (marked in green), but with a second row being introduced just behind (marked in red).

Meanwhile, drawing influence from McLaren, which has had a similar solution since last year, the team added a pair of downwash wings beneath the boomerang wing and created a framework for which the airflow can now operate within (marked in yellow).

The top of the main vertical element has also been adjusted (marked in blue) with the team following what has become a little bit of a trend, with the surface broken up into smaller feather-like sections.

William FW43B floor comparison

William FW43B floor comparison

Williams was not long out of the gate before making the switch to the now almost ubiquitous Z-shaped floor cut-out, with the solution arriving at the second race of the season. However, the aerodynamic appendages used in combination with the cut-out remained largely the same, save the triple fin cluster added at the fulcrum.

The team has now replaced the three ‘r’ shaped vanes placed midway along the cut-out and the slightly curved fin just ahead of the tyre (marked in red) with a cluster of fins right on the edge of the floor (marked in green).

This is an attempt to replicate the sort of flow conditioning that was easier under the previous regulations, with the ability to control the ‘tyre squirt’ created by the rear tyre imperative to increasing the performance of the diffuser. 

Left unchecked, the deformation of the tyre will squirt airflow laterally into the diffuser's path as it squishes under load.

The design of the floor and the aerodynamic devices installed on it are all looking to reduce this by redirecting the flow across and around the tyre, which as a consequence will improve the balance of the car and increase downforce.

William FW43B floor fins

William FW43B floor fins

Williams had already looked at this earlier in the season when it exchanged the triple winglet stack mounted horizontally that it had also used throughout the 2020 campaign for a vertical fence, similar to what we’ve seen Ferrari use this year too.

Interestingly this aligns neatly with a vertical fin mounted on the rear brake duct winglet cluster, which as we know are also narrower this year by regulation.

The update package run since the French GP has also featured a revised diffuser layout too, as the team has reduced the height of the outermost strake, a decision we’ve seen several teams take this season. This suggests that the new regulations have altered the course of the airflow sufficiently in that region for the teams to feel that they needed to make adjustments.

William FW43B diffuser comparison

William FW43B diffuser comparison

shares
comments

Related video

2021 Formula 1 British Grand Prix session timings and preview
Previous article

2021 Formula 1 British Grand Prix session timings and preview

Next article

The 'special relationship' Ferrari will hope to exploit at Silverstone

The 'special relationship' Ferrari will hope to exploit at Silverstone
The strange tyre travails faced by F1’s past heroes Prime

The strange tyre travails faced by F1’s past heroes

Modern grand prix drivers like to think the tyres they work with are unusually difficult and temperamental. But, says  MAURICE HAMILTON, their predecessors faced many of the same challenges – and some even stranger…

The returning fan car revolution that could suit F1 Prime

The returning fan car revolution that could suit F1

Gordon Murray's Brabham BT46B 'fan car' was Formula 1 engineering at perhaps its most outlandish. Now fan technology has been successfully utilised on the McMurtry Speirling at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, could it be adopted by grand prix racing once again?

Formula 1
Aug 11, 2022
Hamilton's first experience of turning silver into gold Prime

Hamilton's first experience of turning silver into gold

The seven-time F1 champion has been lumbered with a duff car before the 2022 Mercedes. Back in 2009, McLaren’s alchemists transformed the disastrous MP4-24. And now it’s happening again at his current team

Formula 1
Aug 11, 2022
Why few would blame Leclerc if he leaves Ferrari in future Prime

Why few would blame Leclerc if he leaves Ferrari in future

OPINION: Ferrari's numerous strategy blunders, as well as some of his own mistakes, have cost Charles Leclerc dearly in the 2022 Formula 1 title battle in the first half of the season. Though he is locked into a deal with Ferrari, few could blame Leclerc if he ultimately wanted to look elsewhere - just as Lewis Hamilton did with McLaren 10 years prior.

Formula 1
Aug 9, 2022
The other McLaren exile hoping to follow Perez's path to a top F1 seat Prime

The other McLaren exile hoping to follow Perez's path to a top F1 seat

After being ditched by McLaren earlier in his F1 career Sergio Perez fought his way back into a seat with a leading team. BEN EDWARDS thinks the same could be happening to another member of the current grid

Formula 1
Aug 8, 2022
How studying Schumacher helped make Coulthard a McLaren F1 mainstay Prime

How studying Schumacher helped make Coulthard a McLaren F1 mainstay

Winner of 13 grands prix including Monaco and survivor of a life-changing plane crash, David Coulthard could be forgiven for having eased into a quiet retirement – but, as MARK GALLAGHER explains, in fact he’s busier than ever, running an award-winning media company and championing diversity in motor racing. Not bad for someone who, by his own admission, wasn’t quite the fastest driver of his generation…

Formula 1
Aug 7, 2022
Could F1 move to a future beyond carbon fibre? Prime

Could F1 move to a future beyond carbon fibre?

Formula 1 has ambitious goals for improving its carbon footprint, but could this include banishing its favoured composite material? Pat Symonds considers the alternatives to carbon fibre and what use, if any, those materials have in a Formula 1 setting

Formula 1
Aug 6, 2022
The traits that fuelled Alonso's unexpected Aston Martin F1 move Prime

The traits that fuelled Alonso's unexpected Aston Martin F1 move

Fernando Alonso’s bombshell switch to Aston Martin sent shockwaves through Formula 1, not least at Alpine that finds itself tangled in a contract standoff with Oscar Piastri. Not shy of a bold career move and with a CV punctuated by them, there were numerous hints that trouble was brewing.

Formula 1
Aug 4, 2022