At Williams, the conditions will be the same again for both drivers from the French GP this weekend. “We’re now in a position where both cars can run with the upgrades,” reveals Dave Robson, head of vehicle performance.
The Grove team had already brought a major update to the FW44 at Silverstone. However, both at the home race in Great Britain and afterwards in Spielberg, only Alexander Albon had the new parts available.
Now, two races late, Nicholas Latifi will finally be able to enjoy the updates. “Hopefully it gives us the extra pace that we were missing,” said the Canadian, who wishes to be able to fight further up the field.
Basically a not unfounded hope, because before Silverstone it was heard that the update should take about a second – at least in theory. Because the fact is that Williams has not yet fully understood the new package.
“There is this phase where you have to check whether it behaves like in the wind tunnel and in the simulations,” explains Robson. Williams actually wanted to do that in the first Silverstone practice session. But that didn’t work because it was raining at the time.
How much does the new package really bring?
“It would have been a pretty boring session. But we could have collected the data,” explains Robson. And you haven’t really been able to catch up on this work, because you used the second training session afterwards to prepare for the race.
And at the last race in Spielberg, Williams thwarted the sprint format. Because there was only one training session before qualifying, this could not be used purely to collect data either.
One would now like to catch up in Le Castellet. “As the weather is likely to be warm, dry and stable this weekend, we want to use Friday to allow Nicky to get used to the new parts,” explains Robson.
In addition, one wants to understand for oneself, “we best get the performance out of the new package.” Because the team is still missing data, it is currently not possible to say how much lap time the update will actually bring.
“It’s still difficult to quantify,” Robson muses, adding: “There are promising signs and good feedback from Alex, but I don’t think we understand how to get the most out of it.”
Williams harder to drive now
At least he is confident “that we [mit dem Update] have taken a step forward,” says Robson, who names three key points. The update should offer better balance and generate more downforce with less drag.
And third, it should form a “much better platform” for future development. “Those are the three things we’re aiming for. I think there’s evidence for all three, but we haven’t been able to quantify them yet,” Robson said.
Negative side effect: According to Albon, the car with the updates is a little harder to drive than before. “It happens naturally the more you push the aerodynamics,” explains Robson, who now announces some adjustments “on the mechanical side”.
He hopes that this will improve the situation for the drivers a bit. “But I think some of that will just be unavoidable. He just has to absorb that with his driving style,” said Robson.
Latifi, who will have the updates on his car for the first time this weekend, will also have to get used to them at Le Castellet. A “boring session” would of course help.