Williams' F1 wind sensitivity problem due to downforce breakthrough

Williams has explained how the decision to successfully make downforce and drag improvements has left its 2021 Formula 1 car exposed to wind sensitivity issues.

Williams' F1 wind sensitivity problem due to downforce breakthrough

Speaking after his single day driving the FW43B in pre-season testing earlier this month, Williams driver George Russell said he expected the team’s 2021 performances to “yo-yo” depending on how much wind was blowing at each venue.

Russell and team-mate Nicholas Latifi outlined this again ahead of this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix – taking place at a venue where gusts of wind regularly catch out teams and drivers – and Dave Robson, Williams’ head of vehicle performance, explained that the team’s approach to its 2021 car design alterations meant that, while it had made gains in adding downforce and reducing drag, these came at the expense of wind sensitivity.

“All aerodynamic cars have got a yaw sensitivity,” he said. “And any that don’t simply don’t generate any downforce. So, it sort of goes with the territory.

“I think we have made it a bit worse. Not by intention, but it’s part of how you have to make some trades to make some breakthroughs with generating downforce or reducing drag.

“And then what you try and do is, once you’ve got that base car, you then start working on the yaw sensitivity side of it and hopefully you ratch it up – [that] is certainly a way of developing the car.

“And it’s kind of where we’re at, at the moment.

“We’re in that phase where the straightline downforce and the drag of the car are both better than they were last year.

“The current price we’re paying for that is a slightly increased sensitivity to the wind and the job at the moment is to hang onto the good stuff and recover some of that yaw sensitivity.”

Nicholas Latifi, Williams FW43B

Nicholas Latifi, Williams FW43B

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

When asked if the issue could be fixed during the 2021 season, Robson said: “So there are some upgrades planned.

“The factory, the aerodynamicists are currently working hard on that.

“I think we’ll see fewer upgrades than normal – because a lot of the factory’s attention now is turned onto next year’s car.

“But I think we would definitely like to improve the wind sensitivity this year and I think there will be some test parts hopefully in a few races' time that will help us take a step in that direction – that’s the plan, anyway.

“I think if we can understand on this car how to better trade one for the other then that should also apply to next year’s car, at least philosophically, if not in direct component comparison.”

In qualifying for Sunday’s Bahrain race, Russell escaped Q1 for the 10th time since the start of 2020, but went significantly slower on his sole run in Q2.

In response to a question on why this had occurred from Autosport, Robson explained “it was a used set of tyres” following the team sending Russell out for a short, untimed, run at the start of Q1 to get a full read on the wind conditions at that stage.

“We did the three runs in Q1 deliberately because we wanted to understand what that change in wind direction had done for the car,” said Robson.

“We just did a ‘once past’ to get a feel for the wind conditions.

“So, he used that set [in Q2]. They hadn’t done a full timed lap but it was definitely used. But otherwise, nothing was wrong with the lap, just a lack of grip from the tyres.”

shares
comments

Related video

Why entrepreneurism is still alive in motorsport
Previous article

Why entrepreneurism is still alive in motorsport

Next article

Vettel receives F1 grid penalty for Bahrain yellow flag infringement

Vettel receives F1 grid penalty for Bahrain yellow flag infringement
Why there was no case to answer in Aston’s latest F1 copycat saga Plus

Why there was no case to answer in Aston’s latest F1 copycat saga

The appearance of a revised Aston Martin in Spain caused controversy but PAT SYMONDS explains why the FIA investigation found the Silverstone team had no case to answer

Why it's Red Bull that really leads a three-way fight so far at Silverstone Plus

Why it's Red Bull that really leads a three-way fight so far at Silverstone

After a slow start to Friday at Silverstone, all the Formula 1 teams had to effectively cram in a day’s worth of practice into one hour. But there was still plenty to learn and while Ferrari topped the times, a three-way battle is brewing ahead of the British Grand Prix

Formula 1
Jul 2, 2022
Why the future is bright for the British GP Plus

Why the future is bright for the British GP

It wasn’t so long ago the situation looked bleak at Silverstone with the future of the British Grand Prix under threat. But a transformation has seen it restored to one of the most important races on the Formula 1 calendar, with bigger and better to come

Formula 1
Jul 1, 2022
Could mixed fortunes for F1's leading Brits turn around at Silverstone? Plus

Could mixed fortunes for F1's leading Brits turn around at Silverstone?

For the first time in many years, none of the local racers starts among the favourites for the British Grand Prix. But George Russell, Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris could have reasons for optimism

Formula 1
Jun 30, 2022
Verstappen exclusive: Why F1’s champion isn’t fazed by Silverstone return Plus

Verstappen exclusive: Why F1’s champion isn’t fazed by Silverstone return

Max Verstappen is the world’s number one racing driver… and he’s determined to keep it that way. Speaking exclusively to GP Racing's OLEG KARPOV, the Red Bull driver explains why he’s relishing the 2022 championship battle with Charles Leclerc – and why he’s not worried about returning to Silverstone, the scene of the biggest accident of his career last year

Formula 1
Jun 30, 2022
Why Red Bull’s RB17 hypercar can help its F1 team Plus

Why Red Bull’s RB17 hypercar can help its F1 team

On Tuesday, Red Bull laid out its plans to develop and build a new hypercar - the RB17 - penned by Adrian Newey. As the project itself sates Newey as a creative outlet, it also offers Red Bull's Formula 1 team a number of new and exciting avenues to pursue

Formula 1
Jun 29, 2022
What to expect from Mercedes as F1 returns to Silverstone Plus

What to expect from Mercedes as F1 returns to Silverstone

OPINION: The British Grand Prix is a home event for Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, with their Mercedes team based just a few miles away too. But there’s another reason why the Silver Arrows squad is eager to arrive at Silverstone this weekend, which may help it fix its remaining problems with its 2022 Formula 1 challenger

Formula 1
Jun 29, 2022
The “solemn promise” that cost quiet hero Brooks an F1 title Plus

The “solemn promise” that cost quiet hero Brooks an F1 title

After two terrifying crashes, one of the best British racers of the 1950s retired before his career peaked. But that’s why GP Racing’s MAURICE HAMILTON was able to speak to Tony Brooks in 2014. Like his friend Stirling Moss, Brooks was regarded as one of the best drivers never to have won the world championship. Here, as our tribute to Brooks who died last month, is that interview in full

Formula 1
Jun 27, 2022