In its drive to create more downforce and reduce drag on its FW43B car for 2021, Williams opted for an aggressive design approach that takes its performance down in windy conditions.
Driver Williams Russell struggled with the gusty conditions during pre-season testing and the opening Grand Prix of the year in Bahrain, meaning he was only able to finish the race 14th place.
Russell considered the result to be the “maximum we expected” given the conditions, which he said was the “worst case scenario” for Williams in Bahrain.
He compared the team’s struggles to those of Mercedes, who struggled with an unstable rear end of their W12 car throughout practice and only narrowly won the race ahead of Red Bull after Max Verstappen overtook Lewis Hamilton out of bounds and was unable to challenge again after being forced to give up the position.
“Something as substantial as it would require a complete overhaul, which we obviously didn’t do,” explained Russell.
“This is what we have, this is what a lot of teams have. Time will tell, but I believe potentially Mercedes are in the same boat.
“They probably struggled more this weekend than you will see them in the races in the near future. Red Bull, and the likes of Alfa Romeo, were more competitive against the peloton than what we will see in the races ahead.
“When you are traveling at 300 km / h, a wind of 50 km / h makes all the difference. You can imagine at 50 km / h, it’s with like gusts of 60, 70 km / h. “
Race winner Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes celebrates at Parc Ferme with George Russell, Williams
Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images
Williams plans to produce upgrades for the FW43B in an effort to address some of the wind sensitivity issues, believing that a better understanding of the philosophy will also help in the design of future cars.
New GPDA manager Russell still hasn’t scored any points in F1 in the race for Williams, but he was more optimistic about the team’s prospects for the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix at the weekend next to Imola.
“It’s very different from Bahrain, so you have two ends of the spectrum,” Russell said of Imola.
“Bahrain, you have a lot of low speed corners, very exposed, generally very windy. Imola is high speed turns, the angle of these turns is less. There are more 90 degree corners than 180 degree corners.
“It’s very closed with all the trees and buildings around, so we’re really going to extremes. [I’m] not necessarily saying Imola is in the top half, but it’s probably in the top half [of tracks for Williams], Let’s say. “