Williams to test aero options on Friday in Melbourne

Valtteri Bottas

Valtteri Bottas Williams FW35

Williams will decide after Friday practice on which of two aerodynamic packages they will use in this weekend’s Formula One season-opener in Australia, according to technical director Mike Coughlan.

The former world champions caused controversy last month when they launched their new FW35 car with the governing FIA swiftly declaring the aerodynamics around the exhaust exits would be illegal if used in a race.

Williams replaced the offending design for the final pre-season test in Barcelona and Coughlan said in a team preview on Monday that the final specification for Sunday’s race in Melbourne had yet to be decided.

“We have some further aero tests planned for Friday with both drivers in Australia. The results so far have been interesting and so we’ll make our final decision on Friday evening as to what we will run over the weekend,” he said.

“In either case we feel we have two strong aero packages, each with their own benefits, and so the nature of the circuit and temperatures we find will dictate which package we choose.”

Coughlan said last week that Williams, who have Finland’s Valtteri Bottas making his F1 debut alongside Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado, believed their original interpretation of the rules had been legal.

“It was a trivial piece of bodywork but (FIA race director and technical head) Charlie (Whiting) clarified it and said ‘No, this is how I’ve interpreted this and that will be illegal’,” he told Reuters.

“One of the things Charlie said was ‘I can see what you’ve done is OK but the logical extension of that is this and that can’t be OK’.”

Coughlan said Williams, the last team to unveil their new car, had been “testing the robustness of the law” as all competitors do in designing their new cars.

“Formula One is full of that, where people are playing – especially in testing,” he said.

“There are two techniques – where you ask Charlie and get an answer or you do something in an area where you know you are close to the limit and you wait to see what the outfall from that will be.”