Why Williams opted against 2024 Mercedes suspension

James Vowles, the team principal at Williams, has revealed the strategic decision-making behind the team’s choice not to adopt the full 2024 specification of the rear suspension layout from their partner team, Mercedes, for this season. This decision emerged amidst speculation from Auto Motor und Sport that Mercedes’ capacity constraints limited the supply of its new push-rod suspension to only one customer team, Aston Martin. However, Vowles clarified that the decision was influenced by technical considerations rather than supply issues.

Vowles detailed the dilemma faced by Williams, weighing the potential lap time benefits of the new suspension against the advantages of an earlier start to the car’s development. “I had to weigh up how much laptime we gain with the new suspension compared to quickly deciding to keep the old one and being able to start developing the car four months earlier,” he explained. This strategic choice underscores the complex trade-offs teams must navigate in the highly competitive environment of Formula 1.

Despite opting against the latest Mercedes suspension update, Williams unveiled a significantly different car for the 2024 season, drawing attention for its resemblance to the previous year’s highly successful Red Bull design. Vowles was quick to clarify the approach taken by Williams, stating, “We didn’t copy the car, just its principles.” This statement highlights the team’s effort to capture the essence of Red Bull’s design success while maintaining its own development path.

Interestingly, Vowles pointed out that Red Bull had shifted its focus for the 2024 season, moving away from the design that many of its competitors were still trying to emulate. According to Vowles, Red Bull had developed a version of the 2022-2023 Mercedes concept, which ultimately did not meet their expectations and was abandoned. “Red Bull had already ticked off what everyone else is still looking for,” Vowles remarked, noting Red Bull’s ability to pivot and explore new design directions, supported by their advanced simulation tools.

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