While there are no real surprises in the design layout, it is interesting to see how the team has taken inspiration from elsewhere on the grid in an effort to re-establish itself as part of the chasing pack.
The nose design has received changes, as the tip has been extended forward to meet with the lead element of the front wing’s main plane. It creates a similar feel to what was seen from Ferrari during 2022, as it allows some room to expose the wing’s leading edge.
Bodywork lines on the nose suggest that there is an upper vanity panel in place here, with a smaller internal crash structure. This would allow the team to make changes during the course of the season, should a more aerodynamically efficient solution arise, and is something most of the field began to do in 2022.
The most visually different aspect of all of the 2023 challengers has been in the sidepod designs; while there were four or five different interpretations at the start of last season, it quickly became clear that some were simply better than the others.
It’s notably the downwash style concept, championed by Red Bull and AlphaTauri from the start of last season, that has become the layout that the bulk of the teams have been drawn towards — with Williams no different in that respect.
Williams FW44 side view comparison2
Photo by: Giorgio Piola
Williams had already made that switch during the course of 2022, with a new sidepod arrangement just part of the large update package that arrived at the British Grand Prix (above).
One of the major hurdles faced in making that switch lay in the internal make-up of the FW44, with the radiators, electronics and other coolers positioned within the sidepods in a way that did not allow the team to take full advantage of the new bodywork shape.
A ground-up redesign for the FW45, including what will likely be a repositioning of the side impact protection, has allowed its designers to optimise the bodywork shape. This is especially notable in the scale of the undercut, as it had previously been much smaller thanks to the physical limitations imposed by those internal components.
While the design introduced in 2022 held more similarity overall to the Red Bull concept, it did feature an inlet more in line with the one seen on the Ferrari F1-75. This is a feature that’s been carried over, albeit improved as part of the more aggressive undercut design.
Williams FW45 sidepod comparison
Photo by: Williams F1
Following on from the inspiration taken from Red Bull and Ferrari, Williams has this year seemingly set its sights on Alpine’s design, as it also moved the needle on the Red Bull downwash concept in its own direction in 2022.
As part of this, the sidepod features an elongated ridge along the top, which also creates a more defined channel for the airflow to follow as it travels along the ramped section towards the rear of the floor and the coke bottle region.
There has also been a change in the design of the engine cover too, as the team has applied the shelf-like approach that many took during the course of last season. It also enables a downwashing rear cooling outlet to be employed.
Supplementing the rear outlet is a gilled cooling panel on the side of the engine cover, which will undoubtedly have various iterations depending on demand during the course of the season, just as was the case last season.
On top of the engine cover, Williams has once again opted for just a short shark fin section toward the rear of the assembly.
There is some interesting detailing around the mirrors and halo, with the former sporting an elongated fin on the sidepod shoulder as part of their mirror stay assembly, while the tail section of the halo has been treated to a triangular-shaped vane similar to the Ferrari and Mercedes solutions seen in 2022.
The FW45’s floor also seems to derive inspiration from the front end of the pack, with cues from
Ferrari, including the notched outer floor fence (lower left inset) and rear cutout with a wing jutting out from the underside (lower right inset). There are also details that could be normally associated with Red Bull, including the edge Gurneys and the tapered rear section.
Williams FW45 comparison
Photo by: Williams F1