Williams engineers mulled stripping paint from entire FW44!

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Williams' Dave Robson says the team's engineers considered stripping all the paint off the FW44 in a bid to save crucial weight, a plan that was unsurprisingly opposed by the British outfit's marketing department.

As teams rolled out their new-generation cars at the start of the season, weight became a top issue, with the majority of the new designs weighing in over the sport's legal 795kg threshold, the highest limit ever set in the modern history of F1.

A three-kilo increase was authorised after pre-season testing, but teams still struggled to meet the higher limit, with some competitors allegedly being as much as 10 kg over the minimum weight.

To marginally further slim down their contenders, engineers resorted to the drastic measure of stripping paint off their machines and exposing the carbon fiber of their liveries.

Red Bull, McLaren and Aston Martin have all followed the practice of removing paint from selected areas of their cars. But Williams sought to go one step further before the team's marketing department opposed the plan, as Robson explained.

"It's just the thing that engineering meets marketing, isn't it?" said Williams' head of vehicle performance, quoted by Motorsport.com.

"We all want the car to look stunning, which is part of the sport. And it's not just about the livery on the car; it sets the tone for the whole brand which is clearly really important."

"For sure it's a compromise. The car needs to have some visible personality about it. But at the same time, it's in the sponsors' interests to make it as quick as possible."

Given the teams' widespread weight struggles, it was suggested to Robson that F1 had got its numbers wrong when it set the minimum limit while writing the sport's new regulations.

"I think we've known for quite a while that achieving the (minimum) weight limit was going to be incredibly tough," said the British engineer.

"Plus, with the added complexity of the cost cap, particularly for the bigger teams, then how do you achieve it?

"To some extent it's a slightly arbitrary number because if the FIA set the weight limit at 500kg you'd never be able to achieve it, so it depends what we as a sport view the purpose of that number to be.

"If it's the vast majority of teams, or all but one, where we're at now, then you would say for the sport you're better off increasing that number.

"But I can absolutely understand that, if there is one team out there that doesn't need it increasing, then of course they wouldn't agree to that."

A coy Robson hinted that Williams had saved a "meaningful" amount of weight by selectively removing paint from its 2022 car. And those patches of carbon on the team's FW44 are likely to remain exposed for the remainder of the season.

"The paint scheme is a little bit more than purely an engineering decision, but I would imagine that it will stay because it will be expensive and time consuming to find the weight some other way," he explained.

"If we're happy with how the car looks now, you're better off spending that engineering budget on something else and making the car quicker. I hope it stays like this."

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