The BMW WilliamsF1 Team launched their 2005 campaign today with confirmation of their driver line-up and the unveiling of the Williams BMW FW27 at the Valencia circuit in Spain.
The team confirmed, that after an extensive evaluation process which commenced last November, that Nick Heidfeld would partner Mark Webber as a team race driver, while Antonio Pizzonia would assist with the development and progression of the FW27 as the team's official test driver.
The FW27 was unveiled to the media at 1200hrs CET and made its public track debut at 1500, before commencing its first full test at the Spanish track which is schedule to conclude on February 4, 2005.
On its debut, BMW WilliamsF1 Team Principal Frank Williams said, "The BMW WilliamsF1 Team's hopes and aspirations are embodied in this car, and the driver line-up we have announced today. Ahead of a new season, we are naturally cautious about our prospects, but equally are determined to be a strong force this year."
Explaining the developments of the FW27, Technical Director Sam Michael said, "This car reflects a philosophy of concentrating on the fundamentals. Our focus throughout the design cycle has been built around simple variables that affect performance, such as reducing weight and friction while increasing stiffness. As a consequence of focusing on these fundamentals, we have reverted to a single keel
configuration for the front suspension geometry. We have also been aggressive with our cooling, as witnessed by the extremely low engine bodywork and the large sidepod undercuts. Reliability is the final area we have been determined to pursue, and we have made significant progress, specifically with the gearbox which has been running on-track since November 2004 without problems."
Michael went on to explain the implications of the new rules which have influenced the design of the FW27. "The changes to the rules devised by the F1 Technical Working Group have fundamentally limited the expansion ratio of the air in the diffuser and reduced the ground effect of the front wing, the net result of which is a reduction of around 30% of downforce without reduction in drag. We have worked hard to recover as much lost downforce as possible, primarily via predictive means."
"Prediction, using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) was our main tool to assess the implications of the new rules, and to consider a wide range of potential solutions. Together with our partners at HP, we have scaled up our computational resource by a factor of three times, which means we are operating with a facility that ranks in the top 500 globally, and in the top 40 in the UK. We augmented our inhouse capability with the use of HP's Bristol Laboratories computer farm, which allows us to run computations using external resource at peak load times, such as during the new car design phase," explained Michael.
"As a consequence of all of this additional capability," continues Michael, "We ran almost 100% more aerodynamic models in CFD this year to investigate the optimal solutions under the new regs. Considering that each model contains around half a billion points of information, we have processed the equivalent of 70,000 volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica's simply to assess the aerodynamics of the FW27. We reduced our turnaround times, with post-processing times reduced to minutes as well as improving our accuracy. The CFD outcomes have allowed us to optimise solutions for front and rear wings, brake ducts and radiator ducts without fabrication or tunnel testing. It has been a major advantage in coping with the demands of the new rules."
"The computational resource has also significantly enhanced our structural analysis process, which used to be highly reliant on manual calculations and testing validation. Now we can model these highly complex parameters and integrate the design of crash structures in the car with the aerodynamic demands", he adds.
Michael continued, "The consequence of the application of advanced modelling together with a streamlining of tunnel experimentation has resulted in a distinctive profile to the FW27. "As the front wing has been lifted by 50mm, it has become more important to utilise the drooped wing section in the centre of the car. Additionally, as the rear wing has moved forward relative to the lower diffuser, the other devices around the rear wing must be optimised to ensure they are all working in harmony."
The other area of regulation change that has been significant is the restriction to one set of tyres to complete both qualifying and the race. Michael outlined the implications of this rule in the design of the FW27. "The BMW WilliamsF1 Team has won more races on Michelin tyres than any other team since their return to the sport, so we have worked closely on the implications of the new rules. Essentially, aerodynamics, weight transfer, mechanical balance and traction control are all slaves working to improve tyre performance. We have to find grip without destroying the tyres, and that challenge has become harder because of the new rules, but we are confident that we have made good headway over the winter," says Michael.
Rule changes have also fundamentally affected the engine design and BMW have been tasked with ensuring the P84/5 lasts for 1,500km, while spanning a variety of different tasks, including practice, qualifying and racing, all of which make their own specific demands on engine performance. Mario Theissen, the Director of BMW Motorsport explained the implications of the rules. "Now there is a tactical need to save engine life as far as possible. We have two options, by running for fewer laps or decreasing engine speed. The first option is not desirable, so during free practice, when the team is undertaking setup work and selecting tyres, we will limit the maximum engine speed."