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Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis
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Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis

Tech insight: Can Williams rise again with its new FW43?

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Tech insight: Can Williams rise again with its new FW43?
By:
Co-author: Giorgio Piola
Feb 18, 2020, 9:29 PM

Williams has had a tough few years from a technical standpoint but hopes are high that it can come out from the cold with its 2020 challenger – the Mercedes-powered FW43.

The team has stated that there’s been no fundamental concepts changes on this year's car, as it looks to iron out the issues of last year and build upon design aspects of the car that it knows and understands. It’s a smart choice in the grand scheme of things, as Williams doesn’t have the budget or resources of the bigger teams and with the impending regulatory upheaval coming for 2021 it has to choose where and when to deploy developments to maximise performance.

Most of what we see on the FW43 is a carryover from last year's car, albeit with subtle geometry changes to maximise the overall performance of the car. However, where we have seen wholesale changes is in the design of the sidepods...

Williams FW43

Williams FW43

Photo by: Williams F1

Williams FW43 detail

Williams FW43 detail

Photo by: Williams F1

The three-quarter view probably amplifies this most, as we can see the startling downwash style ramp that’s been created to encourage flow down onto the floor and onward into the coke bottle region. This has clearly been made possible by changes to the architecture and installation of the power unit and ancillaries housed within. The bodywork at the rear of the car has almost become dissociated from it, as a huge swage line creates an upper boundary between the two distinct sections.

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The design brings to mind the sidepod designs we saw back in 2012 from Red Bull and Sauber, and while this was driven by a desire to integrate it with their ‘coanda-style’ exhaust solution, the airflow conditions around the sidepod structure remain.

Williams FW43 detail

Williams FW43 detail

Photo by: Williams F1

This front view (above) of the FW34 also shows just how hard the designers have worked to shrink the sidepod inlet, with Williams sporting perhaps the smallest letterbox opening seen so far. Obviously this comes with its own challenge in terms of keeping their Mercedes power unit operating at the right temperatures but it certainly won’t be hurting their aerodynamic outlook.

Some of the other aerodynamically beneficial elements in this area have been refined for 2020 too, with the upper sidepod slat’s outer section flattened out as it reaches toward the vortex generating tip, whilst the wing mirror solution and their stalks have also been tidied up to improve flow.

Interestingly, it has retained the hanging vane that wraps vertically around the edge of the sidepod undercut, a solution we’ve not seen taken up by others but obviously helps Williams to control the airflow’s path around the sidepod.

Williams FW43 detail

Williams FW43 detail

Photo by: Williams F1

The bargeboards and sidepod deflectors now look much more like a finished article, with the slotted upper sections of the bargeboards rising to meet and work in conjunction with the horizontal boomerang winglet. Meanwhile, the main sidepod deflector is split into three sections at the bottom in order to align with the slotted formation in the L-shaped deflector panels ahead.

Williams FW43 detail

Williams FW43 detail

Photo by: Williams F1

Returning to the front of the car we can see that the FW43 continues to sport the thumb nose tip approach to these regulations, but what has changed is its use of the cape – extending it forward in order to meet with the wing pillars, much like we’ve seen elsewhere on the grid. Bringing the cape forward also means that the team has more space under the rear end of the nose and start of the chassis to deploy some conventional vertical turning vanes.

Williams FW43 detail

Williams FW43 detail

Photo by: Williams F1

Williams FW42 suspension detail

Williams FW42 suspension detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

It's also apparent that the team has made changes to the front suspension to just tidy things up aerodynamically. The FW42 (right) already had the upper wishbone extension but, fairing in all the elements led to a rather cumbersome-looking assembly. This year it has taken a similar approach to the originators, Mercedes and Toro Rosso, and kept things simple. 

The upper wishbone's inboard position has also been altered slightly too, as the team have had to make way for the chassis horns that now protrude from the vanity panel and will enhance flow out of the S-duct. One oddity remains among this though, as Williams still hasn’t moved its steering arm in line with the lower wishbone – a trend that has swept through the rest of the paddock, given the aerodynamic advantages it poses.

Williams FW43 detail

Williams FW43 detail

Photo by: Williams F1

At the rear of the car there’s nothing new or spectacular but it’s worth noting the small outlet on the engine cover’s spine and also the small monkey seat winglet that’s dangling from the rear wing pillars.

As Williams begins its season in earnest in Barcelona testing, it remains to be seen if it has put the demons of 12 months ago to rest. But one thing is for sure: the car looks a lot tidier than last year’s.

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George Russell, Williams Racing FW43

George Russell, Williams Racing FW43
1/9

Photo by: Williams F1

Nicholas Latifi, Williams Racing FW43

Nicholas Latifi, Williams Racing FW43
2/9

Photo by: Williams F1

George Russell, Williams Racing FW43

George Russell, Williams Racing FW43
3/9

Photo by: Williams F1

Nicholas Latifi, Williams Racing FW43

Nicholas Latifi, Williams Racing FW43
4/9

Photo by: Williams F1

Williams FW43

Williams FW43
5/9

Photo by: Williams F1

Williams FW43

Williams FW43
6/9

Photo by: Williams F1

Williams FW43

Williams FW43
7/9

Photo by: Williams F1

Williams FW43

Williams FW43
8/9

Photo by: Williams F1

Williams FW43

Williams FW43
9/9

Photo by: Williams F1

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About this article

Series Formula 1
Teams Williams
Author Matthew Somerfield