Progress for Williams despite Mercedes engine issues

by Vince Pettit

Williams Racing appear to be making progress with the FW43 in pre-season testing, despite the frustrations caused by a Mercedes power unit failure the team completed a total of 106 laps on the fourth day, with Nicholas Latifi setting the fourteenth fastest time ahead of teammate George Russell.

Latifi took on testing duties during the morning session, completing 48 laps until the engine issues arose. The Canadian set a fastest time of 1:18.300, which was 1.358 seconds behind the session leading time of former Williams driver Robert Kubica in the Alfa Romeo.

Despite the frustrations caused by the engine, the 2020’s only rookie is happy with the progress of the car.

“Definitely this year is a big step forward in terms of the feeling of the car on the track and in that way, we are going in the right direction,” he explained. “As for the overall feeling in terms of the on-track driving, I would say this morning was another good step forward. 

“For sure I would have liked to have a bit more track time and laps banked heading into the first race, as our running was curtailed by an oil systems issue. Tomorrow I definitely want to maximise the track time as it is the final time I will get to drive the car before Melbourne.”

Williams Racing - Nicholas Latifi
Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd.

Back on track

With the power unit replaced, teammate George Russell took over in the afternoon to complete 58 laps, finishing in fifteenth place, 0.235 seconds behind his teammate. The Brit will be hoping that the FW43 can carry him to his first points finish this season after missing out in his rookie year.

“We tested a number of aero items today to get a greater idea of the spectrum of our car from top to bottom,” Russell explained. “Some of the changes we made were not as positive as others but definitely for our understanding overall, it was constructive. 

“Come the end of the day, the car was more consistent and nicer to drive so we now need to look into the data to understand why that was the case. Ultimately, that is what testing is all about.”

Crunch time for teams as testing enters final phases

With only two days of testing remaining for the teams before the season opening Australian Grand Prix, now is a crucial time to put fixes in to place using the data collected in the first three days of testing last week.

“The Team has spent the last few days going over the data that we collected last week, and this has allowed us to begin finalising parts of the aero specification of the car,” explained Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance.

“Today we collected more rake data early in the day, which enabled us to complete that basic aero definition of the car. With the track still in good condition, Nicholas was able to begin the performance tuning runs shortly before 10:30am as the race engineers began to explore the newly defined aero package. Unfortunately, the morning was cut short by a PU oil system issue, requiring us to fit another new PU ready for George’s running in the afternoon.

“Once George began his running the conditions were not as favourable as in the morning, and so we were able to spend some time understanding the behaviour of the car in the sort of conditions that we will face throughout the season. By the end of the afternoon we had made good progress and were able to spend the final 15 minutes completing pit stop practice.”

While there has been frustration for the Grove-based team the mood in the garage seems to be more upbeat this year after experiencing one of their worst seasons in the sport.

“Although parts of the day were frustrating, we nonetheless completed some very useful work, which sets us up nicely for the final two days of winter testing. The fact that we managed over 100 laps, despite changing drivers and the PU, is testament to both the dedication and work ethic of our mechanics, but also the current nature of Formula 1 generally.”

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