The radical front end of the new WilliamsF1 BMW FW26, which features a short nose and extended 'tusks' that support the front wing, is not a new idea according to BAR-Honda technical director Geoff Willis
The former Williams chief aerodynamicist says that the concept was looked at previously but dismissed because the advantage it produced was minimal in comparison to the drawbacks it presented in chassis weight distribution.
"We had that idea a few years ago," he said at Jerez where he is overseeing BAR's test programme. "But we didn't think it was worthwhile pursuing it because the merits of such a design were so small. Earlier last year I heard that Williams were looking at it and maybe they have found something because obviously they have state of the art facilities over there."
Willis believes that because of the smaller nose structure more carbon fibre has to be used to make it strong enough to pass stringent FIA crash tests, which increases the overall weight of the component. This in turn compromises the overall weight distribution of the chassis. "It's a trade off between increased airflow and extra weight," he said.
He did allow that Michelin-shod cars have a tendency to require more weight to be distributed at the front of the car. This has also been a major factor in the development of BAR's new car, since the team has switched from Bridgestone to Michelin for 2004 and has had to make significant changes to its hybrid chassis' weight distribution.
Willis confirmed that he has continued with a traditional thin-nosed design on the 2004 BAR which he described as "very sleek". He said: "This year our car carries the lines I have always wanted my cars to have. It's more curvaceous than last year's. It looks just like a sexy lady."
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