Williams expect ‘short-term pain’ from wind tunnel changes

Jon Wilde
Nicholas Latifi during qualifying for the Abu Dhabi GP. Yas Marina December 2021.

Williams face less wind-tunnel time for 2022 – and are expecting that to cause them some “short-term pain”.

The amount of time teams are allowed to spend in the wind tunnel to benefit the aerodynamic performance of their cars depends on their position in the Constructors’ Championship. The worse they fare, the more wind-tunnel time they get.

Each year between 2018 and 2020, Williams finished 10th of 10. It meant that in 2021, they were allowed 112.5 per cent of the set reference based on fifth place being 100 per cent – in other words, Williams got 45 wind-tunnel runs compared to Alpine’s 40.

But not only did Williams improve from 10th to eighth in the standings last year, their wind-tunnel time has also been reduced by changes implemented to the handicap system.

Therefore, instead of having 43 runs like Alfa Romeo did after they finished eighth in 2020, Williams will have only 42 in 2022.

Ironically, those changes also mean that if Williams had finished last again, they would have had one more than previously – Haas will get 46 visits to the wind tunnel.

That should, of course, be counter-balanced with the greater financial rewards that come with a team improving their place in the Constructors’ pecking order from one season to the next.

Nicholas Latifi ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi during the Spanish GP. Barcelona May 2021.

Dave Robson, Williams’ head of vehicle performance, thinks the changes will put them at a disadvantage initially in 2022, with a new car to comply with the revised regulations, but that the difficulties can be overcome.

“Obviously you’d like to have as much wind tunnel and CFD time as possible,” said Robson, quoted by Motorsport-total.com.

“But that just means you now have to be a bit smarter about how you use your time. You have to be more efficient in picking parts to test and be a bit smarter as well.

“We have to accept that, and it will make us better as well. It will bring some pain in the short term but it will make us better in the end, I think.”


Wind-tunnel time is also adjusted halfway through a calendar year dependent on how teams have performed up to that point.

For each position in the Constructors’ standings a team has dropped by June 30 compared to the end of the previous season, they will gain an extra 2.5 per cent of wind-tunnel time – which equates to one run – and vice versa if they have improved their placing.


Planet F1 Verdict


Williams less development time not an issue

Their eighth-place finish gives them less wind tunnel time, but the team is still confident, nonetheless.