New Williams FW45 promises more downforce and better handling | Top Gear
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Thursday 28th September
Formula One

New Williams FW45 promises more downforce and better handling

After finishing last in the F1 constructors’ championship last season, the only way is up…

Published: 06 Feb 2023

Williams has pulled the covers off its new 2023 F1 car, and although the livery is only slightly different to that of last year, the team hopes a raft of design changes will bump it up the grid.

And get this, some actual details: the team says the sidepods have been reconfigured as a result of a more effective power unit cooling layout, while the ride height has increased after the FIA stepped in to help prevent excessive bouncing on safety grounds.

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Meanwhile the front suspension layout and ‘major external aerodynamic surfaces’ have been modified, which should result in a more aerodynamically efficient car ‘with more overall downforce and improved handling characteristics'.

That’s more to go on than we got from the Haas VF-23 and Red Bull RB19 launches, at least.

Unlike last season’s car, the FW45 livery will use matte paint for a ‘stronger’ look on track, and special mention from us for the Duracell-badged air intake that looks like a battery. More bits-of-F1-cars-that-resemble-things, please.

Williams also welcomes new partners in the shape of Gulf Oil (one-off livery potential there, right?), Stephens, Michelob ULTRA and PureStream. All of which should help bump up the in-season development fund. 

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The car will get its first shakedown at Silverstone on 13 February, with drivers Alex Albon and rookie Logan Sargeant putting the car through its paces ahead of pre-season testing in Bahrain later this month.

“I’m really excited to be starting back for another year with the team,” said Albon. “The team has worked really hard last year and over the winter to address some key areas in our car, putting in the work to try and maximise what we get out of the car for 2023, so I’m looking forward to seeing what the FW45 can do.”

And new teammate Sargeant added: “I’m really excited for the season to get started after what, for me, feels like a long winter! I’m super motivated and we’ve put a lot of hard work in. The car is looking amazing and it shows the huge effort the team has put in the off season, so I’m looking forward to getting started at Silverstone before heading out to Bahrain.”

The final piece of the puzzle will be the arrival of new team principal James Vowles, who isn’t due to join officially from Mercedes until 20 February. But Albon says he’s already been on phone calls and “grabbed dinner” with his new boss.

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“He’s been at Mercedes for over 20 years,” he explained. “Surprisingly, because he looks quite young! He’s clearly got a lot of experience, and on top of that it’s experience with success, and being in an environment in a team that won multiple world championships.

“It’s great to have that knowledge and information that he has. For us especially, where we’ve had a few tough years, he gives a great insight into just what it takes. And we want to have that winning mentality.”

Next launch in the diary is Alfa Romeo tomorrow...

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