Upgraded F2 car makes huge gains in pace
Williams JPH1B betters Formula Renault 3.5 pole time in Portimão
The upgraded Williams JPH1B F2 car has enjoyed a hugely impressive track debut during pre-season testing at Spain and Portugal. The car ran for the first time at Barcelona last Thursday, 28 January, and on the first day of the test programme achieved an impressive 1m 35.7sec best lap – which compares remarkably with the pole position time of 1m 39.0 set by Robert Wickens for the first F2 race at Barcelona last year and the 1m 38.0 fastest time for race two qualifying.
The upgrade package yielded similarly impressive gains at Portimão on 2 February, with a laptime of 1:33.280s eclipsing the corresponding 2009 pole time for Formula Renault 3.5.
Such significant improvements are the result of an extensive upgrade package implemented over the winter by both MotorSport Vision and the Williams F1 team. Among the new features, the car has benefited from a package of aerodynamic revisions following an extensive CFD evaluation programme by the Williams team, increasing maximum downforce by 30% and improving aerodynamic efficiency by 24%.
Despite low temperatures and grip levels, the revisions yielded instant and sizeable gains when the two cars first took to the track in Barcelona last week. Souceks personal best of 1:35.770s compared with his best effort of 1:38.163 when F2 visited the circuit in 2009.
The operation then moved to Portimão, Portugal, where the team continued to make significant advances whilst also gathering further valuable information about the new upgrades. Soucek again made substantial improvements, posting a best effort of 1:33.280s – almost three tenths faster than the 2009 pole time for Formula Renault 3.5.
Formula Two Series Director Jonathan Palmer hailed the significant advances the team had made during pre-season testing, saying: "Patrick Head and the Williams F1 personnel working on F2 have done a great job to substantially hike the performance of the F2 car for 2010. In 2009 to achieve the target of making our first race on schedule, development time was inevitably compromised as the design had to be frozen for manufacture quite early.
"The 2010 F2 package of upgrades is the result of many months‘ careful work, particularly aerodynamic modelling with the CFD programme. The team went to Barcelona via Lurcy-Levis in France to do straight line testing, which reassuringly verified the CFD theory.
"It was very encouraging to see such instant pace improvement on the opening day of our test programme at Barcelona. To be 2.4 seconds faster than our fastest pole position time so soon and in less than optimal conditions was pretty impressive."
Speaking after Portimão, Giles Butterfield, Group Head of Operations, was delighted with the progress made: "We made a massive step forward in Barcelona and Portimão, and so early in our test programme that is extremely positive. Our main aim was to evaluate the new aerodynamic package; we weren’t necessarily chasing lap times, but rather an understanding of the car and how it has improved. We were able to gather a lot of very valuable information, and it was excellent to have made such significant gains. To have gone quicker than the 2009 Formula Renault 3.5 pole time at Portimão is great and there are still improvements to come, which is really encouraging."
2009 F2 Champion Andy Soucek was similarly enthusiastic, saying: "We’ve made some massive improvements to the F2 car. When you have more power, less weight and better aerodynamics then the car is always going to be better, but to be so much quicker straight away was really impressive – even more so because the temperatures were extremely cold and there is very little rubber on the surface of the track.
"Barcelona is perhaps the most complete track in Europe to test on, which is why F1 teams love going there, and it really gave us a good basis to set up the car and evaluate the new changes. Overall the car feels similar to drive to last year’s but you can really feel the effect of the aerodynamic improvements and the extra grip they bring."