Posts Tagged ‘williams’

It’s all about the aero

March 16th, 2009 No comments

McLaren MP4-24 in testingMark Hughes has written an interesting piece on the ITV F1 website about the problems McLaren have been having with their new car.

McLaren won the 2008 Drivers’ Championship and were among the favourites going into the 2009 season after early testing.  But recently the Woking squad have been falling further and further behind the other teams and drivers Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen have been lapping a couple of seconds off the pace.  After much speculation team boss Martin Whitmarsh confirmed McLaren weren’t sandbagging and those lap times were the best they could do.

But how could such a beautiful car be so slow?  And how could something with a nose like the Renault be faster?  It all comes down to the black art of aerodynamics.  While McLaren have banks of supercomputers running CFD analysis and a state of the art wind tunnel back in Woking, all it takes is one little disturbance in the airflow to effectively “switch off” a perfectly good aero part.

McLaren’s problems highlight the importance of aerodynamics in Formula One.  With no development allowed on engines, aerodynamics is where most of an F1 car’s speed can be won or lost.  Take the Brawn GP BGP 001; it has the same engine as the McLaren, but better aero and Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello have been putting in some scorching lap times.

The good news for McLaren fans, according to Hughes, is that once the McLaren engineers find the problem it should be pretty straightforward to fix.  The question is can they find the problem before they give away too many points?

In other aerodynamic developments, the Brawn GP diffuser’s legality has been called into question along with the Toyota and Williams.  According to Cologne newspaper Express, the BGP 001 design links the floor with the diffuser in a sneaky (and illegal) way to generate more downforce.  The FIA have already inspected the Toyota and Wiliams cars and found them, in their opinion, legal.  As Max Mosley says:

The current FIA view is that Williams and Toyota have been clever and found a loophole in the rules. It’s probably wrong, but they’ve exploited the wording of the rules in a clever way.

But because of the way these things work, the teams have to wait until Melbourne if they want to lodge an official protest.

And finally, Williams have decided to remove the cockpit-mounted ‘skate fins’ that appeared on their car in testing.  It seems like FIA technical delegate Charlie Whiting didn’t like the safety implications of two massive spikes on either side of the driver’s head and I can’t say I disagree.  They did look kind of cool though.

There’s a David Coulthard Museum?

March 16th, 2009 No comments

David Coulthard MuseumIf you want to be a professional Formula One driver you need to manage your brand.  That means, at the very least, you need a website.  Here you (or your manager, or you team of publicists) can post pictures and news about your racing career.  You can also use it flog merchandise.

You probably also want to get yourself a fan club, a Facebook page, twitter account and a karting or GP2 team.

But all that is pretty standard stuff.  It doesn’t really set you apart from every other racing car driver on the planet.  If you really want to prove how good you are you need your very own museum.  Like David Coulthard.

Is there an Alonso Museum?  No.  A Hamilton Museum?  No.  There isn’t even a Senna Museum.  (Ok so there is a Juan Manuel Fangio Museum and a Gilles Villenueve Musem but the ratio of racing drivers to museums is still pretty low.)  But DC has one.  Or at least he did.  According to the DCM website:

For the last few years DC fan Wendy McKenzie has been running the David Coulthard Museum.  After it had been closed down she took it upon herself to get the museum up and running again, so like herself, DC fans the world over would be able to see for themselves the amazing collection of memorabilia he has amassed and celebrate the motorsport career of one of Scotland’s most succesful drivers

That time has unfortunately come to an end and you somehow get the feeling that the small village of Twynholm and Scotland as a whole are losing a National treasure that has drawn in loyal David Coulthard fans from all over the world during the past 12 years. Wendy had this to say…

It is with a very heavy heart that I have to announce the closure of the David Coulthard Museum.

I have found the circumstances just a little too much to take, and as you are all probably aware I have struggled all the way through this but as we all know it is the little thing that finally breaks the camels back and after a lot of heart-searching I have come to the decision to move on with my life and get it into some kind of normal routine again.

Yikes!  Sounds like it was a labour of love keeping that national treasure going.  It’s a pity it has closed down as it looks like it had some interesting stuff in it including the Williams FW17B that DC won his first race in. But I guess the number of loyal David Coulthard fans visiting Twynholm from all over the world has dropped now that DC has retired.

As Wendy says:

Short of a miracle, it will not be opening to the general public again.

Categories: Drivers Tags: ,

Red Bull bring back the shark fin

March 10th, 2009 No comments

RB5 shark finLast month, when Williams introduced their radical ‘skate fins’ I wondered why Adrian Newey, the man who introduced shark fins to Formula One, decided to shrink the engine cover on the new Red Bull RB5 to little more than a ‘stingray barb’.

Well, it seems like he was just teasing us as Red Bull have arrived at the Circuit de Catalunya with the mother of all shark fins.  As you can see in the picture, the engine cover of the RB5 now stretches all the way back to the rear wing!  There’s a closer view at

The 2009 race season hasn’t even started and already the teams are seeing what kind of crazy stuff they can fit around the new aero regulations.  McLaren have installed a completely new floor with cutout sections near the rear wheels and whether the FIA will allow Williams to keep the skate fins remains to be seen.

I don’t really mind the standard shark fin and even those skate fins are ok but I think the Red Bull’s new engine cover spoils an otherwise good looking car.

Williams Formula Two car launched

March 2nd, 2009 No comments

Formula Two JPH01The new JPH01 Formula Two car was unveiled at Brands Hatch on Monday.  The car was rolled out in front of Sir Frank Williams and Patrick Head before British Touring Car driver Steven Kane took it out on the track.

Designed by Williams, the car is powered by a 1.8 litre turbo Audi engine with 400bhp on standard boost and 450bhp on overboost.

While GP2 has been the main feeder series for Formula One in recent years, for much of the history of Formula One, Formula Two has been the stepping stone to the top series.

Formula Two first started in 1948 as a cheaper complement to the expensive Formula One Grand Prix cars.  In fact, in 1952 and 1953, Formula One was so expensive and there were so few entrants that all the Championship races in those years were run with Formula Two cars.

Now, after an absence of 25 years, the FIA are hoping the return of Formula Two will provide an affordable route for young drivers to progress to Formula One without having to find the enormous sums required for GP2.

The top three finishers in the 2009 Formula Two Championship will be eligible for FIA Superlicences and the Champion will win a test with the Williams Formula One team.

The driver lineup includes ex-F1 driver Martin Brundle’s son, Alex and World Champion John Surtees’s son, Henry as well as Natacha Gachnang who is the cousin of Toro Rosso driver Sébastien Buemi.

The F2 Championship starts at Spain’s Circuit de Valencia in May, partnering the World Touring Cars.

More pictures of the launch below:

Categories: Cars Tags: , ,

Shark fins, skate fins and the new Williams paint job

February 27th, 2009 No comments

Trulli testing the TF109 in BahrainIt seems like fins may be making a return to Formula One in 2009.

Renault’s R29 was launched with an elongated ‘shark fin’ engine cover and Toyota, despite launching their TF109 without it, have been using one in testing.

Now, at the launch of their final high-tech livery for 2009, Williams’s FW31 has grown a pair of ‘skate fins’ either side of the cockpit.

Red Bull was the first team to introduce a fin-shaped engine cover on their RB4 in pre-season testing at Barcelona last year and by the end of 2008 almost all the teams were using some kind of elongated engine cover.  Williams tested a shark fin but never raced it.

The shark and skate fins are intended to improve the quality of airflow over the rear wing.  This increases downforce and so allows the teams to run a lower rear wing angle, thereby increasing top speed.  It should also provide enhanced rear-end stability under braking.

Given the reduction in downforce levels for 2009 it is perhaps surprising that only Toyota and Renault have chosen to carry over the full-blown shark fin from last year and Adrian Newey, the man who first introduced it to F1, has shrunk the fin on the new Red Bull RB5 to a pointy little spike (stingray barb?)

The new aerodynamic regulations for 2009 have forced the car designers to go back to the drawing board and I expect we will see other teams finding holes in the regulations that they can exploit as the season progresses.

Pictures of the new Williams FW31 livery are below:

Categories: Cars Tags: , , , ,