Williams launched their livery for the new FW45, their 2023 competitor, today. However what we saw was simply a painted 2022 show car and thus the nerds among us had little to talk about. That was of course until Alex Albon and other Williams staff, discussed the fact that the car looks completely different. This was expanded on and we now know that the FW45 will run a ‘highly evolved sidepod concept’ at it’s first shakedown at Silverstone on the 13th of February.
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This sidepod concept is likely to go down the Red Bull sidepod route as the team quickly moved away from it’s Mercedes-esque zero pod concept during the 2022 season and moved towards the Red Bull philosophy. Given the teams limited resources, they likely began working towards this strategy early last year, switching focus to the 2023 car as early as possible. The good news for Williams fans is that the car was a rocket in a straightline.
Therefore if they can manage to get the cars downforce under control, this could see it gain a significant lurch up the grid as the season goes forward. The team also hinted that they’ve completely switched out the front suspension. This also adds to the Red Bull concept hints because we know that Mercedes struggles last year were at least contributed to by not being able to change the suspension structure in season.
Thus if Williams are going for a complete change of concept, then changing out the suspension components would line up with that assumption. Whether the current backmarker team can make significant progress this year is yet to be seen. Even if the car ‘looks fast’ according to Alex Albon.
We’ll get to see this new car unveiled properly for the first time on the 13th of February at a shakedown at Silverstone, before then being shipped to Bahrain for a filming day ahead of pre-season testing.
Team principal James Vowles also starts his job on February 20th. Williams can look to McLaren’s recent success as a positive example of how to turn things around. McLaren, who were in a similar position not too long ago, hired former Porsche World Endurance Championship team principal, Andreas Seidl, who went on to record impressive results including a win and finishes of 4th, 3rd, 4th, and 5th in the constructors’ standings.
To follow in McLaren’s footsteps, Williams must give their new team principal, James Vowles, the time, space, and authority to shape the team in his vision. Vowles’ top priority will be to repair the damage done in recent years and unify the team. For Vowles to have a chance at success, he needs resources and autonomy, and the support and backing of the team’s owners, Dorilton, will be crucial.
However, the team currently faces a challenge with the departure of their technical director, Francois-Xavier Demaison. Additionally, it is important to evaluate the changes made to the team’s infrastructure and spending to determine if they were made in the right direction.
Given the right resources and support, giving James Vowles the time and space to lead the team in his vision could lead to a successful future for Williams, just as it did for McLaren.