Another car appears, another different approach emerges: This time it’s the Williams FW44, and while we’re short on images from the shakedown that the team conducted with its 2022 challenger at Silverstone, some details are clear to analyse.
Starting up front, the nose is much more domed than we’ve seen presented by the other teams so far, with the chassis top following a similar design.
The nose tip is connected to the second of four front wing elements, with the mainplane drooped down in the central region to help direct airflow to the underside of the nose.
The wing itself is likely a placeholder used to shake the car down, as it’s lacking some of the detail we’ve seen on some of the other cars that have been released so far – with the exception of the diveplane which looks like it might twist more along its length than some of the other examples.
Williams has also opted to displace the front brake duct fence and wheel wake deflectors in order that they likely perform differently to how they were intended. It looks like Williams might have joined the dark side at some point too – the brake duct inlets look like Darth Vader is poking out of them to help scoop up air to help cool the brakes!
The one area of the cars that have really captured everyone’s imagination this year is how each team has come up with a different solution regarding sidepod design.
In Williams’s case, this seems quite dramatic as it appears to have added more of the cooling to the centreline of the car, which is evidenced by the much bigger, rectangular airbox and large engine cover aft of it.
In moving to a more centreline-dominant approach, which we’ve seen teams like Red Bull, AlphaTauri and Alpine adopt in recent years, it gives you more freedom in terms of sidepod design.
In that respect, the FW44 follows its predecessors in creating a very short and steep sidepod that ramps down to the floor and into the engine cover bodywork as quickly as possible. The narrow nature of the sidepods is evidenced further by the blisters used to cover the two side impact spars as they jut out from the chassis (red arrows).
Williams will use the Mercedes gearbox for the first time this season to free up resources and like Aston Martin, who also take Merc’s gearbox supply, Williams has opted for a pull-rod rear suspension layout. This would suggest we can expect the same from the works Mercedes team when we see the W13 unveiled on Friday.
The lower bodywork tapers in extremely tightly towards the car’s coke bottle region, and features the overhanging cooling outlet solution that we’ve seen elsewhere – which teams tended to favour during the V8 era.
Like Mercedes-powered counterpart McLaren, it has also opted for a single, centrally-mounted rear wing support pillar which is joined to the DRS actuator pod. This is considered a tradeoff, with the pillar weighing slightly more in order that it’s robust enough for the wing flexion tests, but provides the aerodynamic boost of only having one element interfere with the rear wing’s mainplane.
Although Williams appears to have some sensors on the rear end of the floor, we can see that the ‘mouse house’ doorway that we’ve seen from the likes of Aston Martin already, also appears to feature on the FW44 (blue arrow). This should help overcome the difficulties posed by having more extreme surface geometries in the floor and diffuser, which will improve the diffuser’s edge vortex in-turn.