Worrying ‘never seen anything like it’ assessment of Williams’ 2024 F1 preparations

Michelle Foster
The Williams pit wall for the 2024 season

Williams were the last team to shakedown their 2024 car

Leaving the shakedown of the FW46 until the last minute, Pat Fry says “everything” at Williams was “massively late” and that’s not something he ever wants to experience again.

As the Formula 1 teams headed to Bahrain for pre-season testing, it was noted that Williams had yet to put their new 2024 car through a shakedown.

Team boss James Vowles said that was a deliberate call, as they were “pushing everything to the limits” with the car.

Pat Fry: Everything is massively late

According to Vowles, rather than the run at Silverstone before heading to Bahrain, he wanted more virtual track testing, telling the media including PlanetF1.com: “I much rather wanted to spend the time dedicated to the virtual track test and we’ll shake it down in Bahrain.”

They did just that the day before pre-season testing began only to find themselves on the back foot on the opening day due to a fuel pick-up issue in the morning and a driveshaft problem in the afternoon.

But it seems there may be more to the story than a conscious decision to delay the shakedown with Fry, Williams’ new chief technical officer, revealing they were actually late getting all the parts together.

“The way we go about making a car is quite different, I would say, from what I would call normal,” Fry said as per Motorsport.com. “And it’s not very efficient.

“Everything is massively late. [It’s not as] if you’re leaving things late for a reason, and I’m used to having lots of stuff early that’s not performant, and the floor as late as possible, because that’s your biggest aero thing. And in a cost cap, you’re only going to make one, and the one at the test is the one at the race.

“But we just had everything [late]. I’ve never seen anything like it. Don’t want to live it again. I’m sure James doesn’t want to live it again either!”

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It, he admits, was not ideal.

“It hurts you in a number of ways because compared to what I’m used to, we’ve issued all the aero surfaces quite early, yet still are struggling to get them out, because everything is there in that massive bow wave, like a huge mountain of parts that we need to make.,” he said.

“And then as well, it’s not very cost cap efficient. So we end up hurting ourselves there as well. So I think all that is down to – it’s just the way we go about it, the culture we have.

“And we’ve got to think more wisely about optimising all three sets of regulations. You’ve got to optimise the financial side now as well. It’s just viciously expensive, what we managed to do. So best to avoid it again.”

“Never again, I hope,” he added. “Hopefully I’m not here next year saying the same thing!”

Williams finished a respectable P11 and 13 in Thursday’s practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix with Alex Albon leading his team-mate Logan Sargeant.

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