The Grove-based team has been removing paint from its FW44 over the last few races, with the first stage taking place in Australia and further changes being made to the recent Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
The changes, aimed at reducing the car’s weight, have resulted in the removal of some of the blue paint on the nose, bonnet and side pads to leave only raw carbon fiber.
The engineers ‘request to reduce the weight of the car by adjusting the livery had to be approved by Williams’ marketing chiefs to make sure it didn’t affect the appearance of the livery and sponsors too much.
And the head of the vehicle performance team, Dave Robson, said his engineers had gone so far as to examine the chances of converting all cars to carbon.
“Of course. Absolutely,” he smiled, when asked if the idea had been discussed.
However, although the fully removed car did not receive approval, Robson said he understood why the team needed to retain some form of identity.
“It’s just a thing where engineering meets marketing, isn’t it?” He said. “We all want the car to look stunning, which is part of the sport.
“And it’s not just about the livery on the car; it sets the tone for the whole brand which is obviously very important.”
He added: “It must be a compromise. The car must have some visible personality. But at the same time, it is in the sponsor’s interest to be as fast as possible.”
Williams is not the only team that has reached out to lose weight from its car in an attempt to approach the increased F1 weight limit for this year.
Williams FW44 side detail
Photo by: Carl Bingham / Pictures of motorsport
Aston Martin, Red Bull, McLaren and Red Bull have removed paint from key parts of their car in an attempt to save weight.
But given that almost the entire network struggles with the car’s weight, there is an argument to suggest that F1 misdirected in setting the current limit.
Robson said: “I think we’ve known for a long time that reaching the (minimum) weight limit will be incredibly difficult. Besides, with the added complexity of cost constraints, especially for larger teams, how then to achieve that?
“To some extent it’s a bit of an arbitrary number because if the FIA sets the weight limit at 500kg, you could never achieve that, so it depends on what we as a sport see as the purpose of that figure.
“If the vast majority of teams, or all but one, are where we are now, then you would say for the sport that you better increase that number. But I can absolutely understand that, if there is one team out there it shouldn’t increase, then of course not agreed to it. “
While Robson won’t reveal exactly how many pounds were taken off Williams with the livery changes, it’s clear the change is “meaningful”.
And while all the teams are working on other weight-saving solutions, he doesn’t think Williams will be in a position to want to regain color later in the year.
“The color scheme is a little more than a purely engineering decision, but I guess it will stay because it will be expensive and time consuming to find the weight in some other way,” he explained.
“If we’re happy with how the car looks now, you’d better spend that engineering budget on something else and make the car faster. I hope it stays that way.”