This is Williams’ new Formula 1 car for the 2018 championship. It’s called the FW41, and though we’re promised a raft of changes underneath, the most striking is the integration of the ‘halo’ safety device.
About those other changes. Paddy Lowe, Williams’ chief technical officer, notes that externally, “the team has pursued a very different aerodynamic concept”. This, in turn, has allowed for “significant progress” in aero performance. We’ll find out next month how both the aero – and that halo – fare on track.
As per last season, the 2018 car will use a Mercedes power unit, tailoring the chassis and body of the new vehicle to make the most of the improved engine.
The 2017 season saw Williams placed fifth in the constructors’ championship, just like the previous year. However, they are “feeling very positive about [their] two talented young race drivers”; the youngest partnership on the grid.
Lance Stroll returns for his second year in F1, alongside new signing Sergey Sirotkin who makes his debut, replacing the now-definitely-retired Felipe Massa. Sirotkin has been soaking up every possible moment before his F1 debut, noting how he’s practically living at the factory. “I’ve been training hard and I’ve been in the simulator regularly, going through different set-ups with the car, different tracks, seat fittings and also a lot of engineering meetings and factory tours to meet everyone,” he said.
Then there’s the not-so-small matter of a certain Robert Kubica making his F1 return. Sort of. He’s Williams’ reserve and development driver for this season. “It will be interesting to go back to some of the places I have been before, some of them providing different emotions from different moments in my life. Sometimes it can be quite difficult watching others racing, but I have a different role this year.”
Testing kicks off on Monday 26 February at Barcelona and will last for eight days. The first race of the new season will be in Melbourne on 25 March.
How do you think Williams will do this season? And what do you make of the ‘halo’?