Williams has unveiled the first images of the Williams Mercedes FW36, the team’s 2014 Formula 1 challenger.
The FW36 is one of the most technically advanced Formula One machines built by Williams, the result of two years of research and development by the team’s technical departments in Grove and utilising power from the team’s new partner, Mercedes-Benz.
“There’s a lot more technology on the cars this year,” said Williams Chief Technical Officer Pat Symonds. “We’ve had turbo-charged engines in F1 before; what’s different this time is that it is much more than just an engine change, it is a completely different system. We’ve gone from a slightly hybridised normally aspirated engine to a fully integrated hybrid power unit with novel technology at its heart.”
Williams signed the deal with Mercedes midway through last year, receiving its first CAD data for the power unit at the end of May. Once the team had received the data it could begin finalising the detailed design for the FW36.
The design phase was completed in September, having found solutions to the major challenges that come with a new set of regulations. Cooling, weight, a new gearbox and aerodynamic changes were all key areas of focus for the team’s technicians.
“Overall the cars will need more cooling this year,” continued Symonds. “The demands on water and oil cooling may be slightly diminished, but the ERS system is significantly more powerful and hence needs more cooling. We also have to cool the charge air from the turbocharger compressor which requires a substantial intercooler.”
“We finished the gearbox relatively early,” he added, with the gearbox being run on the dyno for the first time in November, before running with the full power unit several weeks later. “It’s completed a lot of running on the test rig and at Mercedes HPP in Brixworth, but you can’t take reliability for granted. It’s a completely new ’box and it has to cope with a lot more torque than was the case with the V8.”
The weight of the car proved another test for the team when combined with the FIA’s more strict crash tests, while the launch-spec aerodynamic package was finalised in the first week of December, with an upgraded package for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix signed off in January.
“The build of the new car has gone remarkably smoothly,” concluded Symonds. “But it’s been a challenge to get the car down to the weight limit. It’s been achievable, but it hasn’t been easy because the new power unit is heavier than the outgoing V8. F1 is still going to be an aerodynamic formula in 2014. There are some significant changes: the nose is lower than last year and the front wing is narrower, which means the end plates are now more shrouded by the front tyre. The rear wing isn’t as deep as last year and the beam wing below it is no longer permitted, and we’ve also lost the ability to use the exhaust to enhance aero performance.”