Fry has ‘never seen anything like’ late Williams parts delivery

Logan Sargeant (USA) Williams Racing FW46 in the pits. 22.02.2024. Formula 1 Testing, Sakhir, Bahrain, Day Two. -, EMail: © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images
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Williams chief technical officer Pat Fry admitting to being astonished by the last-minute assembly of the team’s FW46 car, describing the experience as unlike “anything I've ever seen before."

Fry joined Williams in November 2023 after a stint at Alpine, and is no stranger to top-tier Formula 1 teams, having previously held positions at Ferrari and McLaren.

He noted that parts for the Grove-based outfit’s 2024 car arrived significantly later than what he was accustomed to at his former teams, hinting at potential logistical or production challenges faced by Williams.

The late arrival of parts was particularly noteworthy as it coincided with the first new car built under the leadership of team principal James Vowles, who took the helm in early 2023.

Fry indicated that the team is implementing changes to its internal processes.

“The way we go about making a car is quite different, I would say, from what I would call normal. And it's not very efficient,” said Fry, quoted by

“Everything is massively late. [It’s not as] if you're leaving things late for a reason, and I'm used to having lots of stuff early that's not performant, and the floor as late as possible, because that's your biggest aero thing. And in a cost cap you're only going to make one, and the one at the test is the one at the race.

“But we just had everything [late]. I've never seen anything like it. Don't want to live it again. I'm sure James doesn't want to live it again either!”

Williams racing CTO Pat Fry.

Fry's frustration extended beyond the late arrival of parts. He revealed that even aerodynamic components, which had been approved well in advance, still took an unexpectedly long time to be manufactured.

“It hurts you in a number of ways,” explained the British engineer. “Because compared to what I'm used to, we've issued all the aero surfaces quite early, yet still are struggling to get them out, because everything is there in that massive bow wave, like a huge mountain of parts that we need to make.

“And then as well, it's not very cost cap efficient. So we end up hurting ourselves there as well. So I think all that is down to – it's just the way we go about it, the culture we have.

“And we've got to think more wisely about optimising all three sets of regulations. You've got to optimise the financial side now as well. It's just viciously expensive, what we managed to do.

“So best to avoid it again. Never again, I hope. Hopefully I'm not here next year saying the same thing!"

Commenting on Fry’s assessment, Vowles acknowledged that there were early warning signs of potential trouble brewing when he observed delays during the production of updates for last year’s FW45.

In hindsight, these were a precursor to the more significant challenges encountered with the Fw46.

"Last year, when I came into the team, it was already February 20, the car was already a physical entity,” he said. “And so what I was able to see was more the update in the year, which is very lightweight compared to a build.

“A build is 20,000 bits coming together within two weeks. An update is occasionally a large update, but it's a floor, front wing, rear wing, whatever it may be, and it's more controlled. And there were absolute signs of problems there, but not to the extent of the winter."

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