Williams unveil 2023 F1 challenger as Gulf changes allegiance
By Ian Parkes
Tuesday 7th February, 2023 - 1:02am
Williams has become the third F1 team to unveil its 2023 car ahead of the new season.
As with Haas and Red Bull before it, however, the reveal of the FW45 at the team’s headquarters in Grove was for a livery only.
Notably, the car showcased a number of major new partners, the most significant being Gulf Oil, with its iconic logo featuring on the rear wing and just in front of the halo, as well as US beer brand Michelob Ultra.
Gulf had previously partnered with McLaren, rolling out a special livery at the 2021 Monaco Grand Prix when Daniel Ricciardo was part of the team.
Williams will roll out the full-spec FW45 in a shakedown test – when no more than 100km are allowed – at Silverstone on February 15, with Alex Albon and rookie Logan Sargeant sharing driving duties.
Williams chairman Matthew Savage said: “As Williams Racing continues its transformation, we’re proud to unveil this year’s livery.
“We are excited about this year’s car, and I cannot thank the entire team at Grove enough for their hard work to get ready for the season.
“I am delighted to welcome both new and existing partners to our journey. With our new team principal James Vowles joining us later this month, as well as our exciting driver line up of Alex and Logan, Williams Racing will be giving its all in 2023.”
Williams FW45 to be more aerodynamically efficient
For the livery, Williams has retained the striking blue that featured in last year’s redesign, although has opted for a matte finish to provide what it describes as “a stronger on-track visual”.
As for the car that will be seen at Silverstone, the evolution of the FW44 features floor edges that have been raised to satisfy the updated 2023 FIA technical regulations.
The team has also taken the opportunity to heavily evolve the sidepod concept, which has been made possible by optimising the power unit cooling layout, whilst there are also modifications to the front suspension as well as the major external aerodynamic surfaces.
Williams is confident the FW45 is more aerodynamically efficient than the FW44, with more overall downforce and improved handling characteristics.
“It’s going well, the car build is in progress,” said Dave Robson, head of vehicle performance, speaking to invited media including Speedcafe.com.
“Quite large chunks of the car’s systems have been tested independently, and now the whole car is coming together as we get ready to run it very soon.
“In terms of differences to the FW44, the whole car is an evolution in terms of its visible appearance. Probably the most obvious change from last year is around the sidepod shape.
“It’s something we started to focus on partway through last year with the Silverstone package but we couldn’t make the changes we really wanted to, where the actual coolers were. Now we’ve had the opportunity to rework that.”
Albon banking on upgraded Williams
Ahead of his second season with the team, Albon is expecting far more compared to his debut campaign last year at the end of which Williams finished last in the F1 constructors’ championship.
“The team has worked really hard last year and over the winter to address some key areas in our car, putting in the work to try and maximise what we get out of it for 2023, so I’m looking forward to seeing what the FW45 can do,” said Albon.
Albon is joined by a new team-mate in 21-year-old Sargeant who becomes the first American driver on the Formula 1 grid since Alexander Rossi drove for Manor Marussia at the end of 2015.
“I’m really excited for the season to get started after what, for me, feels like a long winter,” said Sargeant, who only secured his super licence at the end of last year’s F2 campaign in which he finished fourth overall. “I’m super motivated and we’ve put a lot of hard work in.
“The car is looking amazing and it shows the huge effort the team has put in over the off-season, so I’m looking forward to getting started at Silverstone before heading out to Bahrain.”
Along with the other nine F1 teams, Williams is due to take part in the sole pre-season test at the Bahrain International Circuit that runs from February 23-25.
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