Williams FW46 F1 car losing “about four and a half tenths a lap” as it is overweight — Vowles

Photo Credit: Williams Racing
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Williams has unveiled weight-saving plans, starting a this weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola, revealing that its 2024 Formula 1 car, which has been quite substantially overweight, has been losing the team almost half a second a lap at each event so far.

The Grove-based team hopes to bring Alex Albon’s car closer to F1’s minimum weight limit of 798 kg by introducing an extensive amount of new, lighter components at Imola.

Team principal James Vowles made the unexpected admission on Thursday in a media session, admitting that the team surprisingly fell behind in other areas last winter in its pursuit of lighter chassis.

The team had to be cautious with other parts of the car because of the development programme, which succeeded in removing 14kg from the chassis but caused the production and development plans to run behind schedule.

Vowles claims that this has led to the FW46 being heavier than last year in its current configuration.

“The transformation we did between 2023 to ‘24 was that we took 14 kilos out of the chassis,” he said.

“For anyone in the business that knows those numbers, you’ll realise that’s an extraordinary feat and the team did very well in doing that.

“However, the car this year that we’ve been running is about four and a half tenths a lap slower, every lap, by the fact it is still overweight.”

The additional weight, according to Vowles, was just a result of everything being so tight with deadlines during the winter. Such was the right nature of it, the new car was only just built in time for Bahrain.

“When things get delayed, weight gets added as one of the fixes to get you back on track,” he said.

“We added an enormous amount of weight, despite the chassis being in a much better place.”

Although Vowles refused to comment on the exact weight, it is common knowledge in Formula One that every 10 kilograms adds 0.33 seconds to the lap time, meaning the FW46 is carrying around 15 kilograms more than it should be

According to Vowles, he had previously requested that Albon, whose contract extension was announced on Wednesday, keep quiet about the matter until now so that they could focus on launching a development plan to get to work on shedding weight and getting them back in the game on that side of things.

“If you go back now and look at your timesheets, and take four and a half tenths off, you have a realisation as to why Alex has been sat here frustrated, because I’ve muted him,” added Vowles.

“I wanted to have the opportunity here to say this is what we did, and this is what we’re doing to fix it. What’s not of interest to me is what’s happened. It’s how we move forward from this point onwards.

“So Imola is the start of weight reduction, that will now continue across the next six races fundamentally in order to get us back to where we need to be.”

Vowles said that Williams was not likely to be bang on the weight limit by the end of the six-race push, but the reduction will have them in a much better place.