Re gearbox - back in 2014, the Williams FW36 was so underweight that they’d got past the point where placing ballast gave them an additional advantage. I remember Pat Symonds saying in F1 Racing that as a result of that, they’d started designing certain components heavier for greater reliability for 2015. Obviously at that point there was no advantage whatsoever in going for a lighter gearbox that had no other performance advantage. Since then we’ve had alterations to the regs that have made weight a bit more critical, but Williams has continued with a very short wheelbase car that makes weight less of a problem (I don’t know if wheelbase has crept up since, but in 2017 it was still the shortest car on the grid).
Then there’s the fact that a metal gearbox is MUCH quicker to manufacture. Which given Williams’ problems this week is probably no small factor in sticking with it.
As far as the sidepods go, I imagine this is an area that the design team gave a lot of attention to, given that Paddy identified it as something that was less than optimal on the car last year. As far as I can see the concept is similar but with some biggish differences in execution. On the FW41, the undercut continued all the way along the sidepod, while on the FW42 it fades out about halfway back and the top of the sidepod tucks down towards the floor. It looks to my untrained eye less demanding of the airflow and better promoting of downwash in the midsection to help feed the diffuser. I suspect that the biggest changes in that area will be internal, however, and not visible to us, given the severe cooling problems the FW41 suffered from all season.
I don’t entirely agree with the commentators saying the car looks ‘undercooked’. Evidently there’s more refinement to come, but me it looks like the least undercooked Williams since 2009, with some nice attention to detail and more focus on the area where the car has been lacking of late, such as in the bargeboard area.