Af­ter the mis­ery of 2013, the long-awaited re­nais­sance is now well un­der way…

F1 Racing - - IN­SIDER -

Ja­son Somerville, Wil­liams’ head of aero, took plenty of ak af­ter 2013, but such is the qual­ity of the guy that he kept his head down, backed him­self and pro­duced the FW36 – a gem of a Mercedes-pow­ered rac­ing car that seems to have very few aero­dy­namic vices.

Its pil­lar­less rear wing could well be a game-changer, al­though ri­val teams have been anx­ious to in­sist that it pro­duces no fun­da­men­tal ad­van­tages. But as with all F1 com­po­nents, noth­ing is clear. A pil­lar­less, non-beam-mounted wing may pro­duce an ob­vi­ous ad­van­tage in terms of ow around the rear of the car, but who could have fore­seen its ef­fec­tive­ness in the Sil­ver­stone cross­winds?

Un­like Mercedes and Force In­dia, Wil­liams and McLaren are run­ning their own trans­mis­sion sys­tems, which means they still have the old-style gear­boxes with in­te­gral cas­ings. This com­pro­mises sus­pen­sion ar­chi­tec­ture and aero­dy­nam­ics: Mercedes, for ex­am­ple, with their car­bon outer gear­box case, are able to fare-in their drive­shafts with the top wish­bone arm; Wil­liams are not. Wil­liams’ ul­tra-slim gear­box may com­ple­ment the pil­lar­less rear wing, but it re­stricts the car in terms of rear ge­om­e­try.

The most ob­vi­ous Wil­liams char­ac­ter­is­tic so far has been their gear ra­tio. In this rst sea­son of xed ra­tios, Wil­liams have gone shorter than Mercedes, Force In­dia and McLaren. They did so be­cause the torque of the 2014 en­gines more than com­pen­sates for any ‘in be­tween’ mo­ments that may arise and be­cause the ma­jor­ity of the F1 cir­cuits these days are slow, not quick.

Again, there was an un­fore­seen re­sult: the greater num­ber of gear changes per lap led to greater rear tyre degra­da­tion. This was nullied when the com­pound choice was con­ser­va­tive (Sil­ver­stone), or when degra­da­tion was high (Aus­tria) but ob­vi­ous at cir­cuits like Bahrain. Wil­liams must spend time and money con­vert­ing to longer ra­tios in the sec­ond half of 2014.

“Felipe Massa re­mains mis­cast. He would have been ex­cel­lent in the sup­port role at Fer­rari”

Valt­teri Bot­tas, as pre­dicted, has emerged as a world-class driver who is very ca­pa­ble not only of win­ning races but also world cham­pi­onships. Felipe Massa, I think, re­mains mis­cast. He would have been ex­cel­lent in the sup­port role at Fer­rari again this year; along­side the bril­liant Bot­tas, and with 2015 look­ing like a very strong year for Wil­liams, it would have been nice to have seen an up-and-com­ing young­ster in the Bot­tas sup­port role. But for all that, let’s hope that Felipe wins a race for Wil­liams at some point in 2014. He de­serves it af­ter such a long and of­ten painful ca­reer.

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