With the Williams FW44, the traditional British team wants to build on more successful times in the 2022 season. At the well-announced launch event, however, there was not yet the right car to see, only the new paint job. The shakedown at Silverstone had been delayed.
Williams has walked through some deep valleys in recent years. Only with the sale of the former family racing team to the US investor Dorilton Capital in mid-2020 did fresh money come into the coffers to start a trend reversal. And indeed, the fans of the Grove team finally had a reason to celebrate last season.
George Russell and Nicholas Latifi added 23 points to the team tally. There haven't been that many since 2017. After finishing last three times in the Constructors' Cup, they were now able to outperform two competitors, Haas and Alfa Romeo. Thanks to some luck in the rain, Russell even climbed onto the podium for the first time in his career at the race in Belgium.
The good mood in the Williams camp was only dampened by the weak end of the season, in which there was nothing countable seven times in a row. In 2022, team boss Jost Capito's squad would of course like to finish in the top ten more regularly. "The results from last season gave the team a huge boost. I hope that we can take the momentum into the new season. Of course we want to take another step forward," says the German leader, looking optimistically to the future.
No risk with FW44 technology
The completely new generation of racing cars, with which all teams have to start from scratch, should help here. And so, before the presentation of the new FW44 on Tuesday (February 15) at 2 p.m., there was a very special tension. But at the well-announced launch event, the fans didn't get to see any pictures of the real car at first. Just like last week's Red Bull, only a cheap plastic show car was unveiled, showing no individual tech features.
"We've been working on the new color scheme for a long time and wanted the livery to look perfect at launch. Unfortunately, we couldn't do that in time with the right car," Capito apologized. "But the FW44 is still doing its shakedown today in Silverstone. The rollout was actually planned for the morning, but unfortunately it was delayed a bit due to electrical problems. We will then publish a few more photos afterwards."
At 4.30 p.m. the promise was finally kept. Williams shared some images of the real car through his social media accounts. Latifi completed the rollout on profiled Pirelli tires on the wet track at Silverstone. As far as technology is concerned, there were no spectacular ideas to be seen at first glance.
Elegant front end
Williams relies on proven technology for the suspension - pushrod at the front, pullrod at the back. The competition from McLaren and Alfa Romeo took more risks. The nose is rather rounded in contrast to most of the other cars shown so far. The tip seems to bottom out on the main blade. At least it looks very elegant. Whether it is fast remains to be seen.
The side boxes are also worth a closer look. The air box and the side cooling inlets appear very voluminous at the front. To the rear, however, the fairing pulls together extremely. This is similar in principle to the McLaren or the Haas. Here you would have to see a picture from a bird's eye view to be able to better estimate the exact dimensions.
The shape of the front and rear wings, on the other hand, looks rather conservative. The flaps are evenly shaped. The engineers of the other teams seem to have given more thought to that. The rear wing is only supported on a single stilt. So far we have only seen this on the McLaren. There were no visible cooling slots in the fairing.
Williams goes blue
In addition to the technical features, the new almost completely dark blue paintwork also caught the eye. The white front section from last year is a thing of the past. The new car only has a few light blue accents in the rear, which create a contrast. Otherwise, only a few red decorative stripes on the front wing, the nose, on the air box and the rear wing provide variety. "We want to express our origins. We are a British team," revealed Capito.
When looking at the FW44, however, it is also noticeable that many sponsor areas are still free. The front wing presents itself completely without logos. Only the lettering "Williams Racing" is attached to the rear wing, which unfortunately does not bring any additional income. There would also be room for a few external partners on the bonnet and side boxes.
Even the logo of racing legend Ayrton Senna, who died in Imola in 1994 in a Williams, can no longer be seen on the car for the first time this season. "We don't look back but forward and don't want to remind our drivers of what can happen," Capito explained the decision. Incidentally, the Senna family was not informed of the measure.
Two pay drivers under pressure
Williams' biggest sponsor this year is probably Red Bull. The Thai replaces George Russell, who was promoted to the factory team from Mercedes during the winter break. After a year off, which Albon spent in the DTM, the youngster now has to prove that he has earned his place in the premier class even without sponsorship money.
Team colleague Nicholas Latifi has not been able to prove this either. The Canadian also contributes a few million to the team budget through personal partners. Against Russell, Latifi mostly looked old in his first two Formula 1 years. Last year he only contributed seven of the 23 team points. The qualifying duel was even more clearly lost at 2:20.