For the second day in succession the F1 world has been treated to some pre-release material of the forthcoming season’s machinery. Following on from my analysis of the 3D render of the Force India VJM07, this is my technical insight into an early preview of the 2014 Williams FW36.
Although not officially released yet, the images of the FW36 tell us a lot about what the real car will be like when it rolls out in Jerez next week.
As with most of the cars this year, the most striking aspect will be the nose. Williams, like Force India, have gone down the “finger” nose route although this is quite a conservative solution – for now.
Stretching up from the regulatory 185mm height, the nose tip then spans outwards as it reaches the chassis base line, forming a wedge shape that forms the rest of the nose assembly. Camera pods have been placed on each side of the nose, in-line with the lower wishbone for better aerodynamic efficiency.
The nose tip itself features a mesh inlet to provide cooling for either the driver or the electronic systems within the monocoque.
The FW36 images include an interesting front wing pylon layout. The pylons, that attach the front wing to the nose, stem from the upper wedge shape, reaching the wing with a large gap between the two.
This design allows for the airflow passing beneath the nose to be controlled and guided towards the splitter. These pylons work in conjunction with the under-chassis turning vanes immediately behind, which are also evident in the images.
However the pylons have some additional detail that is different to that seen in previous seasons. Each pylon is split into two, allowing airflow to pass from one side to the other across their twisted profiles. More specifically, the trailing part of the two pieces formed is directed towards the leading edge of the floor.
This split design is again used to allow more airflow to travel towards the underside of the car, although they have a secondary function of creating vortices that block the turbulence – caused by the front tyres – impinging on the floor. This works in exactly the same way as the Y250 vortex that forms slightly offset to the pylons.
The front wing itself is markedly similar to the test wing seen at the Young Driver Test at Silverstone last year, confirming that it was indeed a 2014 configuration, afterall.
Unlike the VJM07, it would appear that Williams have not opted for the stepped chassis. The stepped chassis allows a little more room beneath the car to control airflow and aid rear downforce although this probably will not be a must-have technical development.
The sidepod air intakes are a lot bigger this year due to the ERS cooling requirements rather than the V6 turbo engine unit itself. However the intakes seen in the images appear to be drastically bigger than expected, although their size is likely to decrease as the engine manufacturers come up with a more efficient powertrain.
There are also additional cooling louvres along the top of the sidepods and just behind the driver’s head beside the airbox. The latter louvres have never been exploited before. The position they are in suggests that it negates the need for an extra cooling inlet beneath the airbox, reducing drag that little bit more.
The shape of the sidepods themselves taper nicely towards the rear of the car and currently do not feature the vortex generators we saw on the VJM07 render.
Aside from the fact that the rear wing is a little shallower, Williams have got some more interesting solutions towards the rear of the car.
To start with, the position of the Y100 winglet relative to the central exhaust exit is a thought-provoking choice, as it would almost appear as if the pipe is blocking the winglet’s profile. However the aim of this solution is to influence the low pressure airflow passing beneath the winglet, using the exhaust gases as an upwashing effect against the top half of its profile.
The upwash of the beam wing – now banned – extracted performance from the rear wing and the diffuser. Although this design will not have the same effect as the beam wing, it will help regain a small portion of the performance deficit.
Further down, a curved fence lines the floor alongside the rear tyre. Like the VJM07, Williams have opted to continue exploring vortex production in this area to offset ‘tyre squirt’ and extract more downforce from the diffuser. The vortices created by the scrolled fence will direct turbulence produced by the rotating rear tyre away from the outer walls of the diffuser and make the underside aerodynamics more efficient.
Just beyond this, we can just about make out a small wing profile attached to the rear wing endplates (which, incidently, are attached to the top of the diffuser, sparing the need of any central rear wing pylons). This small wing has quite a shallow profile and exploits a loophole that first appeared in 2009. Interacting with the diffuser, it should provide a subtle amount of additional rear downforce.
Interestingly, the driveshafts are not housed within the lower wishbone. This is a trend we saw last year, as its housing prevents the rotation of the shafts creating turbulence along the top of the diffuser. I would expect to see a more refined version come Melbourne as it could extract further performance from the miniature wing profile immediately below it.
Lastly, the low-lying Williams gearbox we have grown accustomed to is gone to accommodate the new power unit. The sidepods are shrink-wrapped tightly around the engine beneath, although I would imagine that this bodywork could be opened up when testing gets underway to extract heat from the sidepods.
Images courtesy of Williams F1 Team