Hill impressed with 'incredibly radical' Williams FW44

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As a former Williams driver, Damon Hill retains a keen interest in the Grove-based outfit, and the team's new-spec FW44 has really caught the 1996 F1 World Champion's eye.

Last week in Barcelona, during F1's first three days of pre-season testing, several teams were singled out for their bold approach to F1's new technical regulations.

Among those fielding innovative concepts, Ferrari's eye-catching F1-75 was the subject of a lot of scrutiny in Spain from the Scuderia's rivals, but also from F1 pundits, including Hill.

"The side pods and the bodywork [on the Ferrari] are so unique, it's phenomenal," Hill told the F1 Nation podcast.

"But I've heard one very experienced car designer, from a while ago, look at a Ferrari and go, 'Hmm, that looks like it was designed by committee. The front end looks like it was going one way, and the back end looks like it was going somewhere else.'

"So nobody really knows what's going to work in the new regs, but there's such a difference [between designs].

Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Ferrari F1-75 - sidepod. 25.02.2022. Formula One Testing, Day Three, Barcelona, Spain

But the Italian outfit's new contender wasn't the only design that caught Hill's attention.

"The Williams is incredibly radical," commented Hill. "It's phenomenal, the packaging on that thing."

All things considered, the Briton said that Williams and Ferrari share in common the fact that both teams are seeking to restore their former lustre.

"Williams are a bit like Ferrari," added Hill. "Their prancing horse was hobbled a bit when they had their problem with their power unit, and they were clipped back, and they've been in reset mode, as have Williams.

"So they'd basically given up [2021]. Last year was like a wasted year, and they've been able to maybe devote more of these resources on the 2022 car. That's maybe why they're interesting.

"If Mercedes think that Ferrari are six months ahead, then you might see that the Mercedes and Red Bull have had to expend too much energy on fighting a championship last year.

"Let's see what happens there."

Teams will resume their pre-season preparations next week in Bahrain where the first wave of upgrades and developments will be rolled out.

But Hill reckons that while each team will have spent a considerable amount of time dissecting the data collected in Spain, engineers will have also taken a close look at their rivals' designs and stand-out features.

"They will be going back and going, 'They've done something different to their front wing - have we done the right thing or not? What are they doing?'" Hill said.

"So they will be doing a lot of analysing of each other in this period, and there'll be questions.

"The designers will inevitably be wondering whether they've gone down a blind alley or whether they've gone up the right alley."

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