A new lower downforce front wing spec was put under test in Canada but both drivers were forced to abandon it in wet slippery race conditions choosing the higher downforce former spec which ensured better grip . The new spec was again tested in Valencia but yet not used in race .
The new spec is totally new speaking for both the endplates and flaps . It is still triple profiled with the main flap to be raised higher close to the endplates and to be half length slotted (1) compared to the fully slotted former design .Another change took place to the extension of the endplate horizontal section under the flaps . The new one is shorter and features an additional L-shaped element (2) . The endplate is simpler and lacks both the extra low height outer vertical fence (3) and the triangular horizontal fin at the rear top of the endplate (4) . Finally the flaps are reshaped having less curvy inner tips (5) and a shorter flap separator (6) .
All changes aim to accelerate air flowing under the flaps close to the endplates to boost downforce production close to endplates (thus the inner section of the third flap remains higher than the inner section like the old spec => https://formula1techandart.wordpress.com/2011/07/20/williams-fw33-separated-flap-front-wing-concept/ ) so as to counterside the less downforce produced by the new flaps which by their side offer a cleaner airflow towards the car body behind .
As expected Williams joined the group of teams to copy Red Bull floor exhaust outlet concept . The extended exhaust pipes are now driven towards the diffuser and housed inside the floor to maximize the effect of the hot emissions on the diffuser . The revised rear exhaust-floor package was fitted only in Barichello car during Chinese free runs . The system did not pay off the expectations of the team because it caused floor burning and as a result of it degradation of car’s aero performance .
The new exhaust outlets were gone under revisions to overcome the floor overheating issues and put under new test in Catalunya with the debut of the new package in race conditions taking place two races after in rainy Canada. Nevertheless for the next race in hot Valencia the cars were reverted back to the old package .
Williams since Melbourne divided the upper flap into two separated sections , an outer section close to the endplates and a second larger inner one . The outer section is supported onto the middle flap via a flap separator close to the neighboring inner section and is adjustable as an independent element .
This clever approach gives freedom to mechanics to adjust differently the attack angle of the two sections , depending on each track special downforce needs . Of course it is more beneficial to raise the angle of the outer section to gain downforce as the disrupted air will head onto the tyre profile behind the flap . On the contrary raising excessively the angle of the inner section maximizes the turbulence caused to the airflow interacting with the flap which then heads towards the under surface of the floor and around the sidepod bottoms , something totally unwanted .
Rookie Maldonado usually prefers to race with a wing having an inner section of a bit higher attack angle for more front grip compared to Barrichello . Noticeably till the Spanish race the angle difference between the two sections was rather small or even close to zero but in Catalunya both drivers raced with a distinctive raised inner section for the first time . This allowed the team to reduce the length of the tab along the trailing edge of the second flap in favor of cleaner air behind the flap .
As all teams are accustomed to so Williams revised its front wing before season kick start in Australia with the new version to have new endplates , which offered drag reduction . Barrichello even tested a new front wing spec ( the third version since launch) , an option not chosen for Melbourne race though. This was about to change in Malaysia where both Williams drivers raced the new wing which offered even less drag created by the tyres profile at very long twin straights of Sepang circuit .
Williams seem to sunk deeper and deeper in crisis of performance lack , with Sam Michael stepping down from Technical director at the end of season . For that reason and to reverse negative climate major upgrades are expected soon from the team including a new diffuser along with a new exhaust blown diffuser configuration that will improve laptime by a significant amount
Barcelona , last pre-season test and Melbourne
Williams front wing endplates are mainly consisted of three parts . The first one (in yellow) was revised in Melbourne to provide a larger volume for the air flowing inside the endplate surface , reducing drag. Furthermore the additional triangular horizontal fin at the rear top of the endplate improves further airflow management close to the wheels profile .
3rd Version tested by Barrichello at season debut at Melbourne and being used since Sepang
The wing has an additional outer mini fence bending outwards ( yellow arrow) and a deep cut at the bottom of the first endplate element (marked in red arrow) to encourage further drag reduction .
The unusual and innovative rear suspension assemble and in particular the fact that the upper wishbones are attached directly onto the wing’s pillar and the lack of any support of the beam wing onto the rear crash structure caused excessive vibration to the wing , something totally unwanted because it dramatically reduces aero efficiency of the car . To decrease wing’s lateral movement and provide extra stiffness Williams supported the beam wing onto the pillar ( in yellow ) via a connector .Furthermore in Melbourne , to totally overcome any vibration issue , the endplates were mounted onto the diffuser roof via single metallic pillars (lower illustration ,red arrow) . In Williams case the endplate support have no aero contribution as happens in Mc Laren case .
The oval hole at the nose tip helps to cool the electronics housed inside the nose box . For Williams case the hole has a “W” style protective frame , which stands for Williams Team , to prevent small hazardous fragments ( like little debris ) from entering in .
Williams managed to construct the smallest ever 7-speed gearbox even though the gearbox endurance is now increased from 4 to 5 races this year . This aggressive structural approach gave permission to aero dynamists to construct a fabulous low and compact rear car end , the smallest in 2011 grid . The target is to clean dramatically the airflow passing over the rear beam wing and the diffuser roof causing a serious increase in downforce production .
The ultra low rear end effected the rear suspension design as well . The new suspension is totally new and a pull rod in contrast to the previous push rod with the top wishbones ( in yellow) to attach directly onto the rear wing’s single pillar , something innovative for F1 . The differential (in orange ) is also very inlcined because of the low gearbox line ‘
Talking about the double diffuser ban Sam Michael said : “Not only can you not open any holes between the reference and step planes, you must have continuous material through all lateral and longitudinal sections. The scope for developing anything on the diffuser is limited, so we’re looking at the centre, rear and front of the floor, as well as the sides of the floor and the little area around the tyre spat, all of which are still free.”