Williams Have a Car
Yesterday, the Williams FW34 was
launched wheeled out of the garage and into the pitlane – yes, Williams do like to be low-key. The Oxfordshire-based outfit has been in steady decline for the last few years, culminating in a ninth-place finish last year with a total of five points – thank goodness points now go to tenth place or it would have looked even worse on paper. However, with a new technical management team in place, will this year see the once-great team start its recovery?
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One of the key changes for 2012 is the switch from Cosworth to Renault power. Williams and Renault enjoyed a nine-year association between 1989 and 1997 which produced four Drivers’ and five Constructors’ titles and 63 race wins. Many fans are pinning their hopes on the engine which powered Red Bull to victory will be the magic bullet to reinvigorate Williams. However, that may be overly critical of Cosworth, who were perhaps too easily judged by the performances of HRT and Virgin.
Aerodynamically, Williams’ tiny gearbox that they introduced last year has been exploited even further with a tighter, lower rear with a significant resemblance to Red Bull – lets hope gearbox reliability has improved. Meanwhile the sidepods are heavily sculpted at the front and of course, there’s the now almost ubiquitous stepped nose.
The mechanical and aerodynamic design and development direction of the FW34 has been driven by a new technical leadership, guided by Technical Director Mike Coughlan – and the team claim a fresh design philosophy with fewer than five per cent of the parts from last year’s FW33 carried over.
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For now, the team are running in testing livery with significant spaces devoid of sponsorship (rear wing endplates, sidepods, cockpit sides.) Hopefully, that’s ahead of a big sponsorship announcement to accompany their livery launch before the season starts.
I’ve previously commented on Williams’ driver line-up for 2012. Two pay drivers may be necessary to keep Williams afloat but ultimately, it is good results that are needed to return its credibility.
2011 was a painful wake-up call for Williams. It can’t get any worse in 2012, can it?
What do you make of Williams’ FW34? Will Renault power make the difference? Or will they be fending off Caterham and co? Let us know your thoughts in the comments…
Credit: Williams F1/LAT Photographic (Glenn Dunbar, Daniel Kalisz, Andrew Ferraro, Andrew Ferraro)