Among the updates they hope could change all that is this new ultra-short nose which has been in development over the winter and which debuted on Felipe Massa’s car over the Bahrain weekend.
It is far slimmer and more sophisticated than its predecessor, with a small oval inlet at the front that diverts air via short inside channels to the outer edge of the nose. It’s a totally different approach to the S-duct being used by Mercedes and other teams, but like those it helps to energise the airflow around the lower section of the nosecone. Also new on the front wing is the slot in the inner vertical fence.
The new nose was only flown in to Sakhir on Saturday morning, and Massa admitted he had a difficult time finding a balance with it in FP3, hence the team took their time deciding whether to use it for qualifying.
They went with it, and Massa said that it found him some time, even though he was narrowly out-qualified by team mate Valtteri Bottas (using the old nose). Its performance in the race was hard to gauge, given that poor strategy proved Williams’ undoing and that Bottas took a drive-through penalty for his first-lap collision with Lewis Hamilton.