Williams unveil the FW41 in London

It’s 2018, which means the halo is in, but shark fins and T-wings are out.

Williams Martini Racing produced a spectacular show unveiling a digital rendering of a new car in front of partners and media in London tonight. The actual Mercedes-powered FW41 will be shown in Barcelona during the first pre-season testing later this month.

“The car has many new features, most of which are not all that obvious, but externally the team has pursued a very different aerodynamic concept which has allowed us some significant progress in aerodynamic performance,” said Williams chief technical officer Paddy Lowe.

“Aerodynamics, structure, and weight are the three major trades to be made in designing a Formula 1 car, and all the work, alongside a number of radical changes to the car’s packaging to incorporate further developments from Mercedes HPP, have led us to the FW41 being revealed today,” Lowe added.

Williams chief technical officer Paddy Lowe (second from the left) and Deputy team principal Claire Williams (speaking) presenting the new FW41 at an exclusive event in London on February 15, 2018. © Acronis.

As expected, the most obvious changes from the last year’s FW40 are the addition of the halo driver-protection device and the elimination of the large shark fin engine cover and T-wing.

Safety has been a hot topic of discussion in Formula 1, so while the halo changes the aesthetics of the car, teams have generally welcomed the addition of a feature designed to make the sport safer. Commenting on the introduction of halo, Lowe said that the main idea was to protect the drivers from cars or wheels landing on their head. There have been too many near misses in the past, about one a year in the last ten years, where the driver could be injured, Lowe said. The halo adds extra protection that could save the driver’s life.

It didn’t come without its challenges, however. “It took a lot of effort particularly for the structural engineers to get that integrated, as you know that the weight is at the premium in Formula 1 car.”

As far as the coming season is concerned, Williams is looking forward to gaining positions in the Constructors’ Championship.

“I’m really excited this year. Obviously last year it wasn’t the season we’d hoped it would be, for a variety of different reasons,” Deputy team principal Claire Williams said. “For many months, the team has put a tremendous amount of effort into the FW41 and I’m eager to see both Lance and Sergey take to the track later this month.”

Guennadi Moukine

Motorsport Technology Editor.