Williams share ‘transparent’ FW46 information that most teams keep secret

Michelle Foster
Alex Albon, Williams, 2024 Australian Grand Prix.

Alex Albon heavily damaged his Williams in first practice in Melbourne.

Starting the season with an overweight FW46, James Vowles says Williams’ repair bill has hindered the team’s efforts to take the weight off the car.

But drawing his “red line”, that stops now starting with the team’s Imola upgrades that have been designed to bring the car closer to the minimum 798kgs.

‘So this is very open and transparent…’

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

After last year’s 28 points much was expected of Williams ahead of the 2024 season with the team seemingly on an upward trajectory.

They’ve yet to deliver.

One of three teams yet to get off the mark, Williams are holding onto eighth place in the Constructors’ Championship based on Alex Albon’s two P11 results, while even his qualifying results have fallen short of last year’s super Saturday moments.

Vowles puts that down to an overweight car that is costing the team almost half a second per lap.

“I’ll give you a reasoning,” the team boss told the media including PlanetF1.com of Williams’ struggles. “So this is very open and transparent, you won’t get this from most teams on the grid.

“We have produced cars that are not at the weight limit. Every year since I’ve started none of the cars have started up at the weight, they’ve been far over.

“The transformation we did between 2023 to ’24 was that we took 14 kilos out of the chassis.

“For anyone in the business that knows those numbers, you’ll realise that’s an extraordinary feat, the team did very well in doing that.

“However, the car this year that we’ve been running is about four and a half tenths a lap slower, every lap, by the fact it is still overweight.

“So what happens when you challenge the system and the technology is you can get an output from it and the output from it is things get delayed.

“And weight gets added as one of the fixes to get you back on track and we added an enormous amount of weight.

“Despite the chassis being in a much better place, we added an enormous amount of weight.”

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With 10kgs of added weight widely believed to be worth 0.3s on the track, Williams’ FW46 could be as much as 15kgs overweight.

The team, though, has brought new parts to Imola which will be bolted onto Albon’s car. But it won’t be a quick fix with Williams needing at last six races to bring the car down to a reasonable weight.

“I wanted to have the opportunity here to say this is what we did, and this is what we’re doing to fix it,” Vowles said. “What’s not of interest to me is what’s happened. It’s how we move forward from this point onwards.

“So Imola is the start of weight reduction, that will now continue across the next six races fundamentally in order to get us back to where we need to be.”

While Williams rivals, most notably Alpine, have made inroads into their weight issues, the Grove team has been hamstrung by their early-season crashes that have left the team scrambling to get parts onto the car, never mind develop new ones.

“Fundamentally, what’s hindered us is that across the beginning of the season, we have damaged four gearboxes beyond repair, we have damaged five floors, we have damaged four front wings, four rear wings, and some miscellaneous bits,” Vowles explained.

“A team, any team or group go speak to them, you can’t deal with that plus taking the weight.

“So damage bill, I just couldn’t believe what happened in three races but that’s where we are. I’m not proud of any of these facts. But the reason why I’m being open and transparent about it is that’s a red line.

“And this is where it stops and from here onwards we produce cars that are effectively up to where they need to be.”

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