Williams don’t yet understand updated FW44

Michelle Foster
Alex Albon with flo vis paint on the rear of his FW44. Austria July 2022

Williams driver Alex Albon with flo vis paint on the rear of his FW44. Austria July 2022

With two revised FW44s on track at Paul Ricard, Williams will use Friday’s practice sessions to check the car is “behaving” like the wind tunnel data says it should.

Williams put a heavily updated FW44 on track at the British Grand Prix, but that weekend they were unable to run through the checks as they had hoped to do given the rain.

One week later, it was again only Alex Albon who had the updates at the Austrian Grand Prix, this time the team’s programme being altered to suit a sprint weekend.

That means Williams will finally have the chance to dot their Is and cross their Ts this time out at the French Grand Prix, the team’s plans for data collection bolstered by news that Nicholas Latifi will also have the upgrades.

Williams‘ head of vehicle performance, Dave Robson, explained to Motorsport.com: “There’s definitely a bit of a reset.

“You have to go through that phase when you have to check it’s behaving like the wind tunnel and simulation say it should, in terms of where you want to pitch the ride height or anything else that affects the airflow.

“Ideally, we would have done that quite methodically and objectively in FP1 at Silverstone if it hadn’t been wet.

“It would have been a pretty boring session but we’d have collected the data, compared it to the simulations and then hopefully have been quite quickly up to speed with it. We didn’t get a chance to do that.

“We then chose not to do it in FP2 at Silverstone as we chose just to suck it and see, and obviously in Austria we didn’t do it in FP1 because we had all the race prep work to do.

“We’ll probably have to do some of that in France, then hopefully we can make some more rapid progress.”

Alex Albon drives down the pit lane in the upgraded Williams FW44. Austria, July 2022.

Racing the revised FW44 at the Austrian Grand Prix, Albon spoke of improved downforce but conceded the car was trickier to drive in gusty conditions.

The Thai driver finished the grand prix in 12th place, with Robson acknowledging Williams do not yet have enough data regarding the new car to say if it is definitely a step forward.

“It’s still hard to quantify,” he added. “Silverstone was difficult. In Austria, with just that one practice session and quite a lot of race preparation homework to get on with, we didn’t do as much of the measurement work as we would have liked.

“There are signs of it showing promise and some good feedback from Alex. But I think we are not there yet in terms of understanding how to get the most from it.

“It’s designed to be better balanced and I think it’s showing signs of that, but there probably is still a bit more work we need to do on the mechanical side of things to optimise what we’ve now got aerodynamically.

“Then I think it’s a better aero package in terms of downforce and drag. And then the third thing is, which we are yet to prove, but this is where the work is going on in the tunnel, we think it’s a much better platform for future development.

“So they are the kind of three things we are aiming for. I think there are signs of all three, but quantifying them yet we haven’t been able to do.”

Williams have scored three points so far this season, Albon P10 in Australia and ninth in Miami.


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