Testing suggests Williams are best of the rest

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Nico Rosberg, Williams-Toyota, Jerez, 2008 pre-season testing, 2 | Williams / LAT PhotographicEvery off-season period usually sees one team putting in a string of quick times and generating a buzz that they will be racing for wins in the forthcoming season.

This year the buzz is all around Williams. Nico Rosberg got his first peek at the FW30 in August last year and said he re-signed for the team on the strength of the car. Among its features are a trick diffuser and an on-board camera mounting that is apparently designed to generate downforce!

It looks like Rosberg may have made a spot on call. The team are the toast of testing, splashed across the front of today’s Autosport with the headline “New Williams to rock F1”. Are they dark horses for a win in 2008?

Clever camera

How cool is this?:

Aiding the bridge wing are new nose fins attached to the nose cone. Like several other teams, Williams has used the maximum width allowed for the fins and then added the TV camera on the end, making the device wider than otherwise possible, but still within the rules.

Although the camera is of a fixed teardrop cross-section it can provide a small aerodynamic benefit along the with the fins in flattening the flow coming off the front wing before it passes over the rear of the car.

This is Autosport’s Craig Scarborough on the FW30 (subscription required). F1 teams are required by the rules to fit onboard cameras to their cars.

I don’t know if anyone’s done this before but it’s so smart, cheeky and typically F1 to turn a requirement like that into something that makes the car go faster – even if only a little bit.

Reworked Ferrari diffuser

Nico Rosberg, Williams-Toyota, Jerez, 2008 pre-season testing | Williams / LAT PhotographicWilliams’ aerodynamicist Jon Tomlinson said of the new car, “we decided to make a few conceptual changes to unlock some extra potential.” The rear diffuser is an example of that, according to Scarborough.

Last year Williams’ FW29 had a diffuser similar to Ferrari’s, with side channels separate from the central diffuser to maximise the airflow – similar to what BMW have developed on the F1.08. However Williams have taken the idea further this year by widening the top of the central diffuser, further increasing the airflow.

These days there is seldom a single ‘golden bullet’ that unlocks the key to making a car faster. But Williams’ aggressive diffuser development shows how far they are going and how confident the team is in its push for performance.

Testing times

The FW30 was fast on its debut at Valencia but the team ran into problems with wing failure at Catalunya, Kazuki Nakajima suffering a big crash. At Jerez this week with a revised front wing the team were still quick – Nico Rosberg was the fourth-quickest driver of the entire test with a 1’19.091.

Following the test Sam Michael said:

We’ve got a good reference but we’re definitely not quick enough to go and win Grands Prix, which is what our target is. We’re still far enough from McLaren and Ferrari that we need to take some big steps to compete with them.

They may not be about to win a race but if they’ve jumped ahead of BMW and Renault into third place they’ve made excellent progress.

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