Dave Robson talks about having more wind sensitivity trouble than they anticipated at Williams, while adding on the Mercedes engine matter.
Post the pre-season F1 test, George Russell opened up about the idea of Williams to use an aero concept, which made their car sensitive to the wind. The Brit acknowledged that it will make it a ‘yo-yo’ season for them, but in current scenario, it may work out as it is.
However, what caught them out, was the amount of sensitivity. In Bahrain, they were severely affected by it. In fact, Williams Head of Trackside Engineering, Robson, admitted that effect which they predicted pre-season, came out to be more in reality.
They had a set number predicted but it is much more in reality, which is what now they have to pull back to help them in the 2021 F1 season. The aero team is already on the case, but Robson admits, it will be tough to balance this year and 2022 work.
“The car is fairly sensitive to wind, more so than we’d like,” said Robson to media including FormulaRapida.net. “The week or two highlighted it in Bahrain. As we also saw in the race, there was a complete 180-degree change in wind direction which I am sure will have effected all of the cars, so whether we’re worse than others, I don’t know, but at the moment the [wind sensitivity] is a big feature.
“That’s something we want to improve, it’s not something we wanted. It is where the car is at the moment. All aerodynamic cars have a yaw sensitivity and any that don’t simply don’t generate any downforce. It goes with the territory. We’ve made it a bit worse, not by intention but it’s part of how you have to make some trades to make some breakthroughs with creating downforce or reducing drag.
“What you try to do is once you’ve got that base car you then start working on the yaw-sensitivity side of it and you hopefully ratchet it up. It’s one way of developing a car and it’s where we are at the moment. We’re in that phase where the downforce and drag of the car are both better than they were last year.
“The current price we’re paying for that is a slightly increased sensitivity to the wind and I think the aim at the moment is to hang onto the good stuff and recover some of that yaw sensitivity,” summed up Robson, who added that Williams do have some upgrades in the pipeline, while reiterating that they did not set out and selected races for the wind sensitivity, as to where the car would work and where it wouldn’t.
“There are some upgrades planned, the aerodynamicists are currently working hard on that,” stated Robson. “I think we’ll see fewer upgrades than normal because a lot of attention is turned onto next year’s car, but I think we would definitely like to improve the wind sensitivity this year and there will be some test parts in a few races time that will help us take a step in that direction.
“That’s the plan, and I think if we can understand on this car how to better trade one for the other, that should also apply for next year’s car, at least philosophically if not in direct component comparison. As I said before, we certainly didn’t sit down and say we’re going to make this trade and try to be quick on any race where it’s not windy. That’s not what we set out to achieve.
“I think we were accepting of it being a bit more sensitive in order to drive up the total downforce and reduce the drag on the car. It’s come out a slightly different trade to the one we were expecting and now it’s a case of understanding why that is and rectifying it as best we can,” summed up Robson, as Russell further added that the wind thing is not just affecting Williams, but also Mercedes.
“The car and how it is, is what we’ve got, it’s what a lot of teams have got,” said Russell. “Time will tell, but I believe that potentially Mercedes are in the same boat. They probably struggled in Bahrain more than you’ll see them struggle at races in the near future.
“Red Bull, and the likes of Alfa Romeo, were more competitive relative to the field than we’ll see in races to come. There were very windy conditions today. 50 km/h winds, it’s very open, very exposed. And when you’re driving around at 300 km/h, 50 km/h wind makes a difference. You can imagine at 50 km/h, it’s with like gusts of 60, 70 km/h.”
Staying on the Mercedes subject, Robson was positive about the better situation with the power unit, which had some trouble in testing. “Obviously, we have got the same hardware and the same software in calibration,” he said. “We are completely relied on Brixworth and the team they have sent out here. So, we have the same situation as they have but it was significantly better during race weekend than testing. I think they are pushing on to improve it.”
Here’s what George Russell said after pre-season testing
Here’s George Russell and Nicholas Latifi on Williams performance in Bahrain