Williams, Merc against wind tunnel ban


Williams and Mercedes have expressed their opposition to a proposed ban on wind tunnels, saying it would not only be dangerous but would have little impact on costs.

On Friday a report emerged claiming that F1’s Strategy Group had voted in favour of banning the use of wind tunnels in Formula 1.

It was not by unanimous agreement and almost immediately both Williams and Mercedes spoke out against it.

Sharing her thoughts in Friday’s press conference in Singapore, deputy team principal Claire Williams said: “I think everyone is fully aware of Williams’ position on wind tunnels.

“We’ve made huge investments over our time in Formula One in our… we have two tunnels at Grove and we place considerable importance on them as a tool for developing our race cars, verifying the parts that we develop at the factory before bringing them to the track.

“We believe that there’s a safety element in there as well and we absolutely do not and will never vote for the banning of wind tunnels in Formula One. We’re very clear on that. And I think they’re relevant.

“How can you operate at the pinnacle of motor sport and not use one of the finest tools in aerodynamics. It doesn’t make any sense to us.”

Added to that, Williams also believe that cutting out wind tunnels would have “minimal” impact on the costs of running a Formula 1 team.

“We’ve actually done a deep analysis of the costs involved in running our tunnel and how much it would actually save if we closed it and the numbers are not… they don’t correlate with the numbers that are currently in circulation at the moment,” she said.

“It is minimal, the amount that you would save. Again, the compensatory elements… you would just save that money elsewhere as F1 teams, any cash that you would save somewhere, you would go and spend somewhere else.”

As for Mercedes, motorsport boss Toto Wolff backed Williams’ assessment.

He said: “I can only agree with what Claire said. We are a road car manufacturer and we have just commissioned a brand new wind tunnel in Stuttgart because a wind tunnel is needed today to put a car on the street, verify what’s being done in cfd and to get correlation. It’s a safety aspect and certainly Formula One shouldn’t be the playground for funny experiments for opportunistic reasons.”

Meanwhile Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost says the proposed ban is nothing more than those who do not have wind tunnel access wanting to stop those that do.

He reckons in order to be fair to all parties, limited use of wind tunnels should be permitted.

“I’m against banning wind tunnel usage because there’s always a reason behind it,” he said. “Some teams are pushing to ban anything, whatever it is, because maybe they don’t have the proper infrastructure or maybe they have an advantage with another tool. No, we should keep a balance.

“I think if we reduce the wind tunnel running time, also reduce cfd like we do currently, maybe to go a step forward, then this is the right way, but not to ban anything because there is another way to compensate for it which is much more expensive in the end.”