How a non-performance aero change helped Williams's F1 car

At the German Grand Prix, Williams took a step forward with its so-far troublesome FW41 thanks to a new front wing that wasn't about adding downforce or increasing top speed

How a non-performance aero change helped Williams's F1 car

The idea behind it was about lifting driver confidence by taking away an instability problem that has dogged the team over the first half of the campaign.

While the changes did not bring any theoretical improvement that could be seen on data, the fact the team enjoyed a slight uplift in form is an encouraging sign for the rest of the campaign.

Following its poor start to the year, the team has stepped up its work over the course of the last few grands prix in a bid to find the answers for its lack of performance.

It's imperative that it understands these issues before locking in design aspects of next year's challenger too, to avoid repeating any mistakes from this year with the FW42.

At the German GP the team arrived with a new front wing, as it attempted to overcome some of its issues and, in particular, get rid of the car's unpredictable characteristic.

It was down to Lance Stroll to put the new parts through their paces during FP1, whilst Sergey Sirotkin ran with the old front wing in order that the team could get back-to-back data.

The wing has many new design features, but the single-most important aspect of its design is the way in which the arch at the outboard section has been relaxed (red arrow), resulting in a much gentler profile on the wing's leading edge.

This alters the wing's pitch sensitivity, which relates to its performance at different ride heights (and during braking, cornering and acceleration), and making it less sensitive means that the car should be more predictable to drive.

This geometrical change has also altered the shape of the secondary element of the main plane, and both of their connecting points with the neutral section.

It has also resulted in the first of the flaps becoming fully detached from the neutral section, revising its shape, chord and ability to tie-in with the flaps above.

This will not only have an effect on the shape, orientation and power of the Y250 vortex being shed, but will also empower the flaps to improve consistency, downforce and overall stability - reducing aerodynamic inconsistencies that may have been occurring downstream on the car.

The changes in the outboard section of the wing have been paired with an alteration to the shape of this section and their transition into the flaps (highlighted in yellow).

Meanwhile, the 'r' shaped cascade has been modified too, with a scroll-shaped tip added on the upper surface, altering the vortex that has been shed.

Williams hopes the changes at the front of the car activate other areas that may be operating at a suboptimal level, meaning it can focus on its development path for the current car and move on to its 2019 design safe in the knowledge that it understands what has gone wrong this year.

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