F1 constructors Williams have ditched their new rear wing design after Felipe Massa suffered a major crash in the Friday practice of the Canadian Grand Prix. The team said that a technical problem with the rear wing was to blame for the high speed crash into the barrier at the first corner of the lap.
Williams Performance Engineer Rob Smedley said that “the DRS system failed to close under breaking”. The resulting lack of rear downforce when breaking for the corner caused Massa to spin and caused a lot of damage to his car. The new rear suspension system the team had introduced for that race also had to be replaced. As this was the new suspension’s first outing, the team hadn’t travelled to Canada with enough spare parts so Massa had to resort to using the old set up from Monaco. Even the least knowledgeable of Formula One fans know that there’s a big difference between the tight Monaco street circuit and the Canadian track, so the failure couldn’t have come at a worse time in the season for Massa.
Despite having to resort to a much older rear end set up than his team mate, he qualified less than 0.1 seconds behind Bottas in eighth place. The heavily repaired car looked competitive in the race but Massa ended up having to retire after 35 laps on Sunday. Williams said a water system problem caused the power system to overheat and they took the decision to retire the car to protect the engine. The retirement tarnished what was looking like a rapidly improving season for the team, especially after Massa’s teammate Bottas finished on the podium in the same race.
Although Massa was frustrated with the car’s reliability during the weekend in Canada, the team have shown major signs of improvement since the start of the season. Many experts, fans and even the bookmakers think the improvements are too little too late to make any impact on the remainder of this season. Bookmakers Betway have Williams at 2500/1 to win the constructors title this season, behind Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes who have odds of 1/100. But if the dominant looking Mercedes do suffer similar technical problems then those odds could drop rapidly, so bet sooner rather than later if you think Williams do have a chance this season.
So will we see the controversial new rear wing back on Massa’s car anytime soon? Well when the new wing was first introduced at the Barcelona testing last month, Massa told journalists that he hoped that he didn’t have to wait too long for the new technology to be introduced. But after the big crash that left him visibly shook up last weekend, he might be willing to wait a little longer for that new wing. It may be that we don’t see the real affects of the new developments until next season, when the bodywork rules are relaxed, encouraging teams to be more inventive with their designs.