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BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 21: Alexander Albon of Thailand driving the (23) Williams FW46 Mercedes locks up under braking on track during day one of F1 Testing at Bahrain International Circuit on February 21, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain.

Williams remains with 2023 Mercedes pull-rod rear suspension

The Grove-based outfit had a successful season in 2023, managing to finish seventh in the constructors' championship

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Williams will remain with a pull-rod rear suspension for its FW46, after deciding with Mercedes not to opt for the German manufacturer’s new layout.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 21: Alexander Albon of Thailand driving the (23) Williams FW46 Mercedes on track during day one of F1 Testing at Bahrain International Circuit on February 21, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain.
Williams will be hoping to make further progress from a successful 2023 (Image Credit: Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Mercedes has made significant changes to its W15 challenger from its previous car in 2023. The Silver Arrows has opted for a push-rod configuration on its rear suspension layout.

The push-rod rear suspension was used effectively by Red Bull and McLaren since 2022 – the start of the new ground effect regulations. The benefits of it includes having more aerodynamic performance through having a more streamlined gearbox and better airflow through the flor and onto the rear wing.

With Mercedes changing, it was expected that its gearbox customers Aston Martin and Williams would change also. However, despite Aston Martin taking it, Williams opted against the latest Mercedes changes. Instead, the Grove team decided to stick to the 2023 parts, including last year’s gearbox and pull-rod rear suspension.

The decision was made many moths ago – an agreement between both parties. It would have been a big challenge for Mercedes to supply two customer teams with new gearbox and supension layouts.

Williams will also benefit by saving money on the cost cap. This allows the Grove-based outfit to spend money on other areas, extracting more performance elsewhere.

No huge impact from decision

Team principal James Vowles spoke on the topic at its launch event earlier this month. The Williams boss believes that the decision would not have a significant impact on the team’s performance in 2024:

“The gearbox is supplied by Mercedes, and obviously I know it very well, for many, many years.

“It’s a very reliable gearbox and it provides a good structure to work from. In terms of the significance to us, it’s just a known entity.”

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 21: Alexander Albon of Thailand driving the (23) Williams FW46 Mercedes on track during day one of F1 Testing at Bahrain International Circuit on February 21, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain.
Albon has had many rumours of a move away from Williams (Image Credit: Clive Mason/Getty Images)

“Fundamentally, the gearbox isn’t the performance powerhouse that it used to be. It doesn’t make a tremendous amount of difference.

“It just defines not even the wheelbase, it just defines a little bit more where the positioning of the rear is and a little bit about the fuel cell.

“In terms of the rear suspension, there’s bits that we’re happy to talk about, but I’m going to save it for Bahrain, because there’s some interesting things to talk about where we’ve gone on rear suspension.”

Slight hiccup in testing

Pre-season testing started on Wednesday with all teams wanting to gather as much valuable data as possible. Alex Albon was Williams’ first driver to go out on-track during the morning session.

All teams managed to get plenty of laps in without any issues. However, towards the end of the morning session, Albon stopped on the track, seemingly losing power on the main straight of the Bahrain International Circuit.

Feature Image Credit: Clive Mason via Getty Images

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