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How Williams has gone 'under the skin' to end points drought

How Williams has gone 'under the skin' to end points drought

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How Williams has gone 'under the skin' to end points drought

How Williams has gone 'under the skin' to end points drought

The launch on Friday of the Williams FW43B gave little away other than revealing a revamped livery for the coming new season.

With the upheaval of the sport's aerodynamic regulations coming into force from next season onwards, much of the focus has been shifting from this year's challenger to the new era of machinery.

Nevertheless, there has still been plenty for teams to work on for this year, with Williams focusing largely on weight saving.

"Under the skin of the car, there has been a huge amount of work done and a lot of tidying up," team principal Simon Roberts explained.

"Because it is a large carryover and a homologation, it gives everyone a second or third chance to go around every component. We haven't missed a single opportunity."

So as we enter the final year of the current regulation set, what has the bottom-of-the-table-team been able to change to try and compete with the back-end of the midfield?

FW43 on a diet

The biggest change - other than those enforced by the regulations surrounding downforce levels for 2021 - has come with the weight reduction underneath.

"We have taken weight off where we can," Roberts said. "Safety is paramount and that is what was in the back of our mind and obviously, some things are homologated. There was still plenty of opportunities.

"Compared to where we were last year when we started, we worked really hard last year to get the car to the weight it needed to be but it is really good to start this year with ballast on the car this year.

"It is great. It gives us some scope for upgrades, it gives us some scope to move weight distribution around in the regulations and it is just one of those things we don't have to worry about anymore. It is a good foundation for the year ahead."

This may seem a small change but the ramifications are potentially huge. The fact the team can now choose how the weight is distributed with the aid of ballast rather than be restrained by the bulkiness of last year's car will open up set-up possibilities.

This will help the car's overall balance, in turn giving boosts to tyre wear and performance, weight transfer under braking and overall lap time amongst other elements.

So where Nicholas Latifi struggled to get to grips in qualifying on a light fuel load last season, the ability to further refine his own set-up with the aid of ballast should improve his chances of following team-mate George Russell into Q2.

No need to use development tokens...

Whilst rival teams have used their allocation of development tokens to upgrade cars for this season, Williams has seen its hands tied behind its back due to work carried out last season.

"We spent one of our tokens last year. I am not going to divulge where we spent it," Roberts added.

"Because we spent one last year, it only left us one over and it wasn't enough to get into the nose or any of the structures.

"So as you would have seen, we are running the same nose as last year and that is where we are.

"The homologation didn't help us from that point of view but it hasn't held us back in terms of development and the rest of the car in terms of taking weight out."

Interestingly, Roberts names the nose structure as unchanged, which suggests the development token was focused on the rear of the car or chassis, although in opting not to upgrade the gearbox this year, it is unlikely to be the latter of those two.

Unless details emerge at a later point in the season, we will likely never know where the token was spent, or why.

First-race upgrade?

Cast your mind back a couple of years to Barcelona pre-season testing, where the elephant [not] in the room was the Williams team.

With the car not ready in time for the beginning of the test, the team sat out the opening week and fell considerably behind in preparations for the season ahead.

Fast forward to the present day and Roberts has boasted the team will have the choice of two separate specifications for the FW43B.

"You can take it one of two ways, we are either ahead of schedule or we cannot make our mind up what we really want," smiled Roberts.

"But we have got some options so we are going with a range of parts that we can get on the car. It is a nice position to be in.

"Both drivers will get to try both options and we have got enough parts around us to convert stock for the race. It could be a first race upgrade, depending on which one we choose."

How much of a difference these options will make remains to be seen. The team, however, seems a lot more optimistic heading into this season than either of the previous two.

Fingers will be crossed it can carry momentum into the new era of F1 next year and return towards the top of the grid.

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