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After a troubled recent history, the famous Williams F1 team is ready to embark on a new era this season, and has unveiled the car it hopes will boost its chances this year. It’s called the Williams FW43B and, as the name suggests, it’s an evolution of the 2020 FW43.
This may seem like an odd place to start. The FW43 is the only car in Williams’ history not to score a single point, but it all comes down to this rules freeze. Aside from a few rule changes to reduce downforce, as the 2020 cars approached tyre turn limits, 2021 operates with the same set of technical rules, and this development of last season’s car is something we’ve seen in the other seven cars launched so far.
Despite the lack of points, the FW43 was not an entirely terrible car. Towards the end of 2020, it was regularly battling with the Alfa Romeo and Haas cars ahead of it, and new owner Dorilton Capital will have good reason to be optimistic for next season.
Like some of the other launches we’ve seen recently, it’s hard to say exactly what Williams has updated on the FW43B, and so far it hasn’t explicitly shared any details. We can spot an unusual vane on the new rear floor that appears to form a channel to divide the airflow into and through the rear wheel, and there’s a strange new shape to the engine cover. The latter detail is almost certainly a version of the ‘hump’ we saw on the Mercedes-AMG W12 and Aston Martin AMR21, and is linked to the new Mercedes ‘E Performance’ engine.
Williams has said that the 2021 car is lighter than before, which will allow the team more freedom in ballast positioning for the mandatory minimum race weight of 752kg (1690lb). This will allow the drivers to alter the balance of the car to suit the track.
There is also stability in the driver line-up, with George Russell and Nicholas Latifi returning for 2021. Russell had been heavily linked with the near-vacant Mercedes-AMG seat, and of course drove for the team at last year’s Sakhir Grand Prix, so Williams will no doubt be happy to retain his services for this season. Neither driver has scored any points yet, but with Haas struggling this season, both are hoping that this will change and the team will move off the bottom of the championship.
With a week to go until the official test in Bahrain, we still haven’t seen the Haas VF21 or the Ferrari SF21. Haas only revealed the livery earlier this week, and the car is expected to make its first appearance on the first day of testing. The Ferrari, on the other hand, is scheduled to appear two days earlier, on March 10.
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