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Williams unveil the FW28 27 Jan 2006

(L to R): Alex Wurz (AUT) Williams Third Driver with Mark Webber (AUS) Williams, Nico Rosberg (GER) Williams and Narain Karthikeyan (IND) Williams Fourth Driver. Williams FW28 Launch, Williams HQ, Grove, Oxfordshire, England, 27 January 2006. World ©  Sutton Barge board detail on the Williams FW28. Williams FW28 Launch, Williams HQ, Grove, Oxfordshire, England, 27 January 2006. World ©  Sutton (L to R): Nico Rosberg (GER) Williams with Frank Williams (GBR) Williams Team Owner and Mark Webber (AUS) Williams. Williams FW28 Launch, Williams HQ, Grove, Oxfordshire, England, 27 January 2006. World ©  Sutton The new Williams FW28. Williams FW28 Launch, Williams HQ, Grove, Oxfordshire, England, 27 January 2006. World ©  Sutton Rear wing detail on the new Williams FW28. Williams FW28 Launch, Williams HQ, Grove, Oxfordshire, England, 27 January 2006. World ©  Sutton

The car Williams will use to contest the 2006 FIA Formula One World Championship was officially launched on Friday afternoon at the team’s UK headquarters near Oxford.

The FW28 will use Cosworth power, following the team’s split with BMW at the end of last season, and will run on Bridgestone tyres after Williams’ switch from Michelin.

The team’s driver line-up also features three new members - Nico Rosberg is Mark Webber’s 2006 team mate, while testing will be carried out by third driver Alexander Wurz and the newly-signed Narain Karthikeyan.

Like its rivals, the aerodynamic design of the FW28 has been heavily influenced by the move to smaller V8 engines for 2006. Obvious changes on the new car include an aggressive barbed sting on the back of the engine cover and de-cambered tips to the rear wing. Coupled to these changes, the team have adopted a tall sidepod concept to allow a larger undercut to smoothen air flow to the rear of the car.

New restrictions on bodywork to the front of the car, removing the bottom parts of any forward barge boards, have also prompted Williams to use a zero keel option for the front suspension. In addition, the team has progressed the cascaded front wing, trialled successfully in the last two Grands Prix of 2005.

The FW28 is a first design for technical director Sam Michael’s new combination of chief aerodynamicist, Loic Bigois and chief designer, Jorg Zander. For the first time too, the design team has had the benefit of two onsite wind tunnels dedicated to the new car from the outset.

“The FW28 has been a large departure from previous Williams’ designs due in part to new aerodynamic efficiency targets, but also the mechanical challenges of changing to Bridgestone tyres and Cosworth’s V8 engine,” explained Michael. “It has been a really interesting car to design and I believe that will continue to be the case during its development in 2006.”

On the engine front, Cosworth CEO Tom Routsis reflected: “Our partnership with WilliamsF1 continues to strengthen and the highly motivated nature of the relationship has produced extremely encouraging results since track testing began. The CA2006 V8 was first installed in the WilliamsF1 FW27C interim car in November last year, since when it has completed in excess of 7,000kms of test mileage. Progress achieved so far by Williams and Cosworth validates the expectation of the partnership enjoying a competitive campaign this season.”

Alongside the new V8 engine in the drivetrain design strategy has been the progression of Williams’ seamless shift technology which is anticipated to come on stream in the early part of the 2006 season. This seven-speed, continuous torque gearbox owes much of its development progression to the joint validation work conducted on Cosworth’s dynos in Northampton. Seamless transmission can be worth up to 0.4 seconds over the course of an average racing lap.

The FW28 commences its first test on Tuesday in Valencia, ahead of its race debut in Bahrain on March 12.