The new season of Formula 1 is getting ever nearer, and with the defunct Manor team and now the Williams F1 team releasing previews of their 2017 cars Stelvio Automotive takes a look at what to expect from the "new look" Formula.
By Sean Smith
This morning started just like 90% of others in the UK, with the sun behind a cloud and a wisp of cold in the air, nothing special to be expected, all as normal. I look over at my BlackBerry and instantaneously notifications are flying in from friends reacting to the fact that Williams F1 have just revealed their 2017 F1 car in the form of a preview video and a couple of render images.
In a rush of excitement I search the web for the best news sites to get as good a look as I can at the new car. We’ve been promised the 2017 machines will be aggressive, bold, fast looking, a major departure from the horrifically ugly cars we’ve watched in the last few seasons. I’ve already seen the 1/3 scale model that Manor released a couple of weeks ago (bottom imge) and despite being a bit half-hearted due to their 39p budget it still showed exciting promise with the shark fins and angular flare akin to what F1 was like 10 years ago. So naturally I was expecting Williams with their multi million pound budget to create something utterly incredible.
And it wasn’t. Williams’ new car, the FW40 (above), looks damn near identical to its 2016 predecessor the FW39, which in itself was hard to differentiate from its own predecessor the FW38. The car has exactly the same nose, the same mid-section and the same side pods, albeit they're wider than last year. The ONLY visual changes are mandated ones where the front wing is slightly arrow shaped and the rear wing is lower and stretched out. The Williams doesn’t even have a shark fin engine cover which is something I’ve wanted back in F1 for years, instead the fairing is just slightly re-sculpted to adjust the air flow to the rear wing. Essentially, Williams have paid millions of pounds for their designers to take a holiday, return in January and use Microsoft Paint to stretch out the 2015-16 cars to fit the new form factor rules.
Now, as a follower of F1 for almost 12 years, I know, or at least beg for Felipe Massa’s sake, that Williams have actually been throwing their time and effort at the lesser spotted areas of the car, the internals and mechanical bits nobody pays attention to. The new wider tyres in F1 are known to be ultra-high in grip levels and along with these new wings the back of the car is going to be under huge load at speed and especially in fast corners. The suspension and various linkages will have been hugely upgraded and beefed up for the high load front and rear and adjusting the chassis for these new parts will go completely unnoticed to 99% of people from looking at these images but you can be sure it will have happened.
With these new Aero ‘regs’ it’s entirely possible that the cars will look dramatically different from today to possibly as soon as the first race in March once teams hit the track and see what the air around the car is actually doing as opposed to what it theoretically does in a wind tunnel or CFD model. Maybe Williams are hiding some sparkly new bodywork for the first tests just to play the poker game. Either way I can’t help but be disappointed with this stretched out, mismatched looking car after the Manor looked so interesting by comparison.
But let’s not completely write off the new season before its even begun. Let’s wait until next week when all the other teams launch their new cars then we’ll really see what the colour and the shape of this new season will be like.