In 2004, the stakes will be high for the BMW WilliamsF1 Team. Having come so close to success in 2003, only outright victory in the Formula One World Championship will be satisfying. The team is fully aware of the need to challenge from the first race until the very last, and aims to do that with a stunningly looking car, the FW26, paired with the new BMW P84 engine that needs to last a complete race weekend.
Team Principal Frank Williams commented, “We have acknowledged our shortcomings of 2003. In 2004, we must be competitive from the off if we are to realise our potential. I have every confidence that the team has all the elements necessary to win in 2004 - we must simply seize the opportunity.”
The WilliamsF1 BMW FW26 design represents another step change, in fact the second in as many seasons. This process is challenging and more demanding than iterating an already successful design, but the results, as 2003 proved, provide a compelling reason for taking this course with car development. Under the guidance of Chief Designer Gavin Fisher, the radical design will be immediately apparent when the FW26 first breaks cover.Short technical view
The FW26 features a distinctively short nose cone, with the the front wing main plane and associated assemblies mounted on extended 'tusks'. The startling interpretation of the front profile has been conceived in tandem with a twin keel monocoque design, aiding air flow both under and over the front geometries of the car, and improving global aerodynamics right through to the rear wing of the FW26. This twin keel implementation is expected with more 2004 contenders, since the MP4/19 also sports this design and has proven to be quick during testing. The car's behaviour on the track now relies very much on the efficiency of the front under the nose, more than ever!
The efficient implementation of a twin keel design aids air to flow under the car smoothly, and allows a less turbulent airflow into the sidepods. Therefore, combined with a redesigned cooling system, Williams have also been able to narrow the sidepod footprint.
At first sight, the rear looks more or less the same as on the FW25, but since a new floor was designed to cope with the airflow from the front going under the car (which may now behave differently because of the new nose) the diffuser will for sure be more important, and not gotten out of the eye of the engineers.
A shorter exhaust system also helps the P84 engine to perform better, and a new rear wing has been designed for the new regulations. These also made it necessary to increase the engine cover's size.