Williams F1 chief designer departsby Mark Hughes on 10th May 2018
Williams chief designer Ed Wood departs 10th place Formula 1 constructor
Ed Wood’s departure from his role as chief designer at Williams reflects the FW41’s hugely disappointing performance in the opening few races of the season. It is the first high profile technical staff change under Paddy Lowe’s technical leadership, which began just over one year ago.
The development has led to speculation that the recently departed McLaren technical director Tim Goss – a former colleague of Lowe’s when they were at McLaren together – will soon be joining to replace Wood. Williams has confirmed Wood has left ‘for personal reasons’ after serving the team for 12 years.
Although the FW41 is a radical departure in concept from the low-drag Williams-Mercedes models of the previous four years, incorporating much of the aerodynamic thinking introduced by Ferrari last year, it’s still a curiously low-tech car in some ways. It retains an aluminium gearbox casing and metal suspension arms in an age where even the smallest teams have long-since switched to carbon fibre. It’s not necessarily a big disadvantage in itself, but represents a certain conservatism in build processes and the attempt to incorporate the team’s traditional skill sets into the concept of a cutting edge 2018 car.
Williams is a team in the midst of a technical modernisation, but it’s still in the early stages of it. The latest heavily updated car set to appear this weekend is an attempt at extracting the aerodynamic performance that simulation suggests should be there. But clearly, some of the shortfalls have been deemed to be design issues.
We await developments with interest.