Williams Martini Racing has become the first team to reveal the car that it will use to compete in the 2016 Formula 1 World Championship season, the FW38.
The Mercedes-powered car was unveiled online on Friday morning ahead of the first of two pre-season tests at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya which kick off on February 22.
Despite hinting that its new car would be “significantly” different to its predecessor, initial glances would suggest that the car is almost identical.
The car features a virtually unchanged livery compared to last year, and will again run in the red, blue and colour scheme of its title sponsor, Martini. Major sponsorship from Rexona is also evident on the car’s sidepods, while Brazil’s Petronas, lifestyle brands Oris Watches and Hackett, the Randstad recruitment multinational and Finnish conglomerate Wihuri have also continued as sponsors. There sole new sponsor in evidence is from Avanade, the Seattle-based IT services and technology consulting firm.
Reflecting the continuity in the team’s livery, sponsors and engine supplier since 2014, the team will run Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas as teammates for the third successive season.
That’s perhaps where the similarities end. While the FW38 has the same ‘stub’ nose design as the FW37, the new car features a more complex front wing design. The sidepods and air intake have been heavily reprofiled, while the lack of any rear shots of the car is clearly an attempt by the team to conceal its interpretation of the new exhaust and wastegate regulations that have come into effect.
“Williams has started to cement our position back amongst the front running teams after finishing third in the championship in the past two seasons,” said team principal Sir Frank Williams.
“This has been a great achievement given the resources of those around us. Staying where we are will be a challenge in itself, but we are determined to keep improving because only winning will ever be good enough.
“We have a very stable team going into 2016, with Felipe and Valtteri teaming up for a third successive season. They work well together and both have the ideal blend of speed and consistency.
“Our technical team has also remained very consistent which will be to our advantage and we have some of the best engineering minds on the grid at our disposal.”
The FW38’s design has focused heavily on improved low-speed cornering, an area where its predecessor noticeably struggled in 2015.
“It is no secret that the low speed performance of the FW37 didn’t match its high speed performance so a lot of time was spent looking into why this was and subsequently making changes, which we hope will improve the situation,” said Williams’ chief technical officer, Pat Symonds.
“At Williams we are honest about our mistakes and try to learn from them,” he said. “Just as in the design of the car we always analyse strengths and weaknesses, so we do with the team.
“This has led to several operational changes for 2016 which, although not particularly visible from the outside, should see the team better able to cope with the many variant scenarios that racing will inevitably throw at them.
“One strength we take into 2016 is stability. It is easy to underestimate the power of this but with the same driver pairings and continuity in the engineering team we hope to be up to speed quickly – something particularly important with only 8 days of pre-season testing.”
Valtteri Bottas will give the new car its first public outing when pre-season testing gets underway on Monday; the Finn will drive the car over the first two days of the test before Felipe Massa takes over.
Images via Williams Martini Racing