Felipe Massa, Williams, Jerez, 2014

Williams pleased with reliaibility gains

2014 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Felipe Massa, Williams, Jerez, 2014Williams chief test and support engineer Rod Nelson believes the team are starting to get to grips with the reliability challenge presented by the new 2014 cars.

“Despite the fairly mediocre mileage we’ve done I can see light at the end of the tunnel on our case,” said Nelson.

Most teams have increased their mileages each day during the course of the Jerez test, with the notable exception of Renault-engined Red Bull who made an early departure from the Spanish track after a series of failures.

“Obviously Renault have got some kind of nightmare going on but that may just be one thing,” said Nelson. “The battery might be a little bit smaller and overheating, or whatever it is. And then that could really stymie them.”

“We’re obviously not party to that information. But from us and the systems and car side, working with Mercedes, we should be fairly confident.”

Nelson said the complexity of the new power units and associated systems was the main cause of problems.

“We’ve had reliability issues which will come as no surprise as much of the other people have. A lot of is, most of it is tied up with the new power units.

“So we’ll have to improve, (a), the way we’re working with them, and (b), some of the ancillary systems that we’re running off them.”

Nelson identified the new electronic braking systems as a particular source of trouble.

“Brake-by-wire is a massive, massive subject – you’ve got control system mapping, you’ve got driver mapping to make the driver comfortable, you’ve got the state of charge control where you’re trying to keep the battery topped up at the right time, you’ve got temperatures and vibration… and that’s just one part of the whole system.”

“And then you’ve got turbos and MGUs all the rest of it. It’s a very complicated problem.”

Nelson added the team were “happy” with the progress made on two of the biggest challenges posed by the new rules: cooling the power units and reducing their weight.

The four Mercedes-powered teams have collectively covered more mileage than their rivals, and Nelson said the pooling of data between them has helped accelerate their development.

“We all have exactly the same engine – we may have slightly different cooling arrangements but nothing major, and we’re very happy with the relationship we’ve got with Mercedes.

“They want us to do well, for instance mileage this week it helps us, the more miles we do, the happier they’ll be. So they’re clearly helping us to fulfil our objectives.”

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