Williams F1 Team – FW35

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After a poor 2011 season, Williams bounced back in 2012 by producing a race winning car in the FW34. Despite finishing only eighth in the Constructors’ Championship, this did not replicate their overall performance of last season as too often driver errors or miscalled strategy found them outside of the points. For 2013, the only way is up for the team as they aim to iron out the mistakes and capitalise on having a high point scoring car. Could the FW35 produce even better results this season?

Front Wing and Nose

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Up front Williams have a slightly new philosophy in order to sort out the aerodynamic problems they were experiencing midway through last season. The complex main plane that formed an ‘m’ shape at its leading edge is gone and a more conventional solution is put in its place.

The wing consists of 5 elements with another slot on the lower flap inboard to aid flow around the lower wishbones and underneath the chassis. The main cascade winglets consist of three planes in itself, which slope downward as they meet the endplate which is very similar to the Ferrari’s solution.

The main purpose of having an increased number of elements is to produce consistent airflow around the front tyres rather than pure downforce in itself, although having more consistent flow does aid the downforce the wing produces in that respect.

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On the launch car, the wing featured a very high nose with a modesty panel which included some rather interesting wing pillars. The pillars’ leading edge, much like the Ferrari F138, start right at the front of the nose before sloping back and attaching at the trailing edge of the mainplane of the front wing.

However, Williams have tested a number of iterations of their nose/front wing already in Barcelona: they tested the nose they ran in Jerez (see image below) which had the camera pods mounted either side of the tip of the nose; a stepped nose from last season; last season’s front wing AND a new front wing which featured an extension on the cascade winglets (this wing also had removable ‘r’ winglets inboard of the wing).

They tested a number of combinations in the opening two days of testing and will probably continue to do so over the rest of the week.

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Brake Ducts

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Williams were one of the pioneers of the “ductless” brake duct, and the team have continued to develop in this area as it is critical in managing the flow around the front tyre. The launch car showed that Williams have opened up the fairing a little more to allow more airflow to come into the brakes although I would expect to see this change in cooler climates to a narrower inlet as this will give them better aero efficiency and maintain higher brake temperatures.

They have retained the strake above the inlet to guide airflow over the top of the upper wishbone and have also added a split turning vane at the lower part of the duct, much like the vanes we see underneath many of the teams’ chassis’. This vane will guide the airflow coming off of the front wing around the front tyre in order to manage the huge wake that it induces at high speed.

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Williams have also produced another way to manage the wake that the front tyres creates by allowing airflow from the brakes to exit via their wheelnuts. This is not a new idea, Red Bull produced a similar system last year but it was outlawed as the exit holes were along the wheelnut. The Williams solution is legal as the wheelnut is hollow, therefore the exit is actually flush to the surface. The outlets bleed airflow from out of the brake drums to try to reduce the turbulence behind the front tyre, as this hinders aero devices further down the line of the car.

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The rear brake ducts are an evolution of last year’s concept but I expect to see more detail being added here, particularly where the upper wishbone meets the upright.

Sidepods and Exhausts

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The sidepods themselves are almost a carry-over from 2012 but they have the addition of the semi-coanda exhausts which are pretty much standard for 2013. However, it is at the exhausts where things are hotting up… if you’ll pardon the pun.

I mentioned in my Jerez test review that Caterham had their exhaust layout questioned by other teams, and lately the FIA. Well now Williams have joined the technical brawl by adding a turning vane above the trough that the exhaust lies in. The idea of placing the vane above the trough is to aid the plume from the exhaust to point further downwards to help regain some of the EBD (Exhaust Blown Diffuser) effect from 2011. I am not entirely sure how it works but removing it won’t lose them much laptime, it isn’t something that all the teams will be arguing about as it is not a “silver bullet” in terms of performance.

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The regulations state that bodywork within an imaginary cone of the exhaust must not manipulate the dynamics of the exhaust plume. Williams argue that, as it is split into two (you can just about see a very small slit between the two pieces of bodywork), it is not a single piece of bodywork and therefore not regarded as a turning vane, which would affect the plume’s path. The FIA have recently stated that it is a piece of bodywork that changes the path of the plume and it is therefore illegal. Williams cannot argue their case until Melbourne, as teams can run whatever they want during the testing period.

I won’t go into too much debate here but I would definitely say the Caterham design is illegal. I am yet to make up my mind on the Williams system!

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The sidepod inlets, barge board and turning vane combination have been carried over from 2012, and we are yet to see any vorticy generators or downwash aids atop of the inlets. The FW35 has also retained its remarkably small gearbox casing to free up additional space at the rear of the car. The rest of the sidepods further back are just a tidied up version of last season’s design, but I heard that Williams will be running their Melbourne-spec sidepods at the final Barcelona test.

Suspension

The FW35 has retained a pushrod front suspension layout, which leaves only McLaren and Ferrari running pullrod for this season, and has also developed its pullrod rear suspension. The driveshaft is nowhere near as aggressively angled as it was in 2011 and although it was refined in 2012, this year’s car is definitely a more traditional layout.

Whereas most teams have chosen to either align the driveshaft and trackrod with the lower wishbone assembly or actually house the two inside of it, Williams have preferred to stick with their current platform by keeping the lower wishbone at a lower height and allowing airflow to hit the two devices. They may not have decided to alter the lower wishbone height because they want a well-known setup platform for this year’s new Pirelli tyres, but it would have been a benefit to do so on aerodynamic purpose.

Rear Wing and Diffuser

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As far as I can tell, the rear wing is last year’s version which includes the two slots at the endplate’s leading edge that Marussia have adopted. The monkey seat winglet is different in that they have formed a neat design that is very reminiscent to McLaren’s MP4-23 rear wing from 2008 (shown below). A new version will probably be on its way for the final test.

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This is the same for the diffuser area, as there are not many noticeable changes in this region but I presume that this is still a baseline test model and that more iterations of the floor and rear wing will be tested across the next couple of weeks ready for Melbourne.

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3 thoughts on “Williams F1 Team – FW35

    1. thewptformula Post author

      I don’t think they will because they were going to miss Jerez anyway as it is not a good indicator as to how the car, and the tyres, are performing. Having said that, it is always a good idea to do proper system checks, run-dry programs and basic setup changes at the first test.

      So far Williams have had great reliability and have got on with their program at Barcelona, so you’d have to say that it won’t affect them very much at all.

      Reply
  1. Pingback: Barcelona Final Test – Final Updates (Midfield) | theWPTformula

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