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Fry has "never seen anything like" late Williams F1 parts delivery

Williams Formula 1 team chief technical officer Pat Fry says he has “never seen anything like it” after watching the new FW46 come together at the last moment.

Alex Albon, Williams FW46 in the pit lane

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Fry, who joined Williams in November after leaving Alpine in the summer, says parts for the 2024 car came through the Grove factory system much later than was the case at his previous teams, which also include Ferrari and McLaren.

It was also the first new car built under team principal James Vowles, who started at the team early last year.

Fry indicated that efforts are under way to change the culture and processes at the team.

“The way we go about making a car is quite different, I would say, from what I would call normal,” said Fry. “And it's not very efficient.

“Everything is massively late. [It’s not as] if you're leaving things late for a reason, and I'm used to having lots of stuff early that's not performant, and the floor as late as possible, because that's your biggest aero thing. And in a cost cap you're only going to make one, and the one at the test is the one at the race.

“But we just had everything [late]. I've never seen anything like it. Don't want to live it again. I'm sure James doesn't want to live it again either!”

Pat Fry, Williams Chief Technical Officer

Pat Fry, Williams Chief Technical Officer

Photo by: Williams

Fry indicated that he was even more frustrated because aero parts were signed off at an early stage and yet still took a long time to go through production.

“It hurts you in a number of ways,” he said. “Because compared to what I'm used to, we've issued all the aero surfaces quite early, yet still are struggling to get them out, because everything is there in that massive bow wave, like a huge mountain of parts that we need to make.

“And then as well, it's not very cost cap efficient. So we end up hurting ourselves there as well. So I think all that is down to – it's just the way we go about it, the culture we have.

“And we've got to think more wisely about optimising all three sets of regulations. You've got to optimise the financial side now as well. It's just viciously expensive, what we managed to do. So best to avoid it again. Never again, I hope. Hopefully I'm not here next year saying the same thing!"

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Vowles admitted that he had a first hint of problems ahead when he watched updates on 2023's FW45 coming through the system.

"Last year, when I came into the team, it was already 20 February, the car was already a physical entity,” he said when asked by Autosport for his take on Fry's views. “So what I was able to see was more the update in the year, which is very lightweight compared to a build.

“A build is 20,000 bits coming together within two weeks. An update is occasionally a large update, but it's a floor, front wing, rear wing, whatever it may be, and it's more controlled. There were absolute signs of problems there, but not to the extent of the winter."

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