Why Williams will be ‘late’ to the 2024 F1 pre-season action

Michelle Foster
2024 Williams F1 FW46 Render 4

The new 2024 Williams FW46 livery has been revealed, with the team re-signing 1990s sponsor Komatsu.

The only team yet to do an on-track run in their 2024 F1 car, James Vowles says Williams may be “late” but that’s because they’re pushing the “limits” with the FW46.

As one by one their rivals took to the track this week, McLaren and Mercedes even using different layouts of the Silverstone circuit in order to run on the same day but keep their secrets hidden, Williams were conspicuous in their absence.

And with only days remaining before Formula 1’s pre-season testing begins in Bahrain, they won’t be putting in a shakedown run.

The FW46 will be ‘late’ to the track but it was a conscious decision

Declaring they will be “late” to the party, Vowles, who took over in January last season with the FW46 the first car designed and built under his watch, has explained it’s not a case of dropping the ball, it was a conscious decision.

“What we were doing with this car is pushing everything to the limits,” he told the media, including PlanetF1.com.

“And to give you ideas about that, the chassis technology is different, some of the other technologies are quite different to what we’ve done before.

“Those changes are enormous for an organisation, absolutely enormous.

“Some of those have challenged us to push ourselves beyond where we wanted to be. But in the case of what’s happened overall, I’m very, very happy.

“You simply can’t do everything at the same time, you can’t change what you’re doing and break technology cycles, and put yourself in a much better performance situation, without taking an enormous amount of risk.

“And we have, but there’s no doubt about it having the car where we have it now, and you’ll see it in Bahrain, is late.”

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That decision to go all-out with the FW46 meant Williams have foregone their traditional Silverstone shakedown despite Grove being within an hour’s drive of the Northamptonshire track.

For Vowles, virtually testing the car back at the team’s factory carried more weight than a wet, soggy, and potentially pointless Silverstone outing.

“We could easily have run down there, but there was a balance between doing the virtual track test and Silverstone,” he explained.

“I much rather wanted to spend the time dedicated to the virtual track test and we’ll shake it down in Bahrain.

“Silverstone, I have several feelings towards it. I’ve done it for a number of years, and sometimes you get some really good things out of it. Sometimes you’re running out on wet tyres in blustery conditions and you don’t learn a single thing.

“And that balance means I’d much rather do virtual track testing, and then bring the car to Bahrain where we can do that properly. And then furthermore, save that filming day for later in the year.

“So a bit of it is we’ve pushed ourselves to the absolute limits, a bit of it is actually I believe far more in doing other testing, if you’d like to call it that, and then use Bahrain as the opportunity to get started.”

Pre-season testing begins at the Sakhir circuit on Wednesday 21 February, and runs for just three days before the new season officially begins a week later with the Bahrain Grand Prix.

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