Williams could be forced to start with both of its cars from the pit lane at the British Grand Prix after an unexpected aerodynamic flaw caused issues in qualifying.
Lance Stroll spun off at Brooklands early in Q1 and was unable to recover from the gravel to continue in the session, while Sergey Sirotkin soon followed suit at Stowe but rejoined the track before being eliminated in 18th place. Both incidents came with the car turning in at high speed having used DRS, and chief technical officer Paddy Lowe reveals a failure for the airflow to reattach to the rear of the car is to blame.
“We brought in some new pieces yesterday and we need to do more work but the presumption is that we have an intermittent problem with the floor stall related only to DRS,” Lowe said. “So it only happens when you use the DRS and it doesn’t recover well enough for the subsequent corner. We can only assume now that it’s related to the new pieces even though we did a proper introduction and seem to have a stable platform as we showed in P2 yesterday.
“A new rear wing is the main part. The floor is the same section.
“It’s a general wing. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the wing itself, it’s just something in terms of the car with everything in combination.
“We’re just deciding now what we do for this event. In terms of in general we will need to go back and regroup. We have work to do.”
Asked if there is a chance Williams will have to start from the pit lane as a result of making changes to components on the car, Lowe replied: “Let’s see where we get to with it.
“We’re looking at the moment at what we do.”
Lowe says he apologized to both Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin for the issues with the car on Saturday as they were unable to escape Q1.
“I apologized to the two drivers already today for not giving them the equipment they needed. I apologized in the debrief.
“A team is about everybody being honest with each other and we recognize when things go wrong and move forward.”
Stroll himself revealed the issue was the equivalent of the car losing more than half of its downforce on entry to a corner, resulting in the spins.
“I’ve never experienced that before, that’s the first time I’ve experienced that,” Stroll said. “We have a new rear wing this weekend and we have some new set-ups on the car. So I think due to those new set-ups and the rear wing and all that – I don’t want to make a conclusion myself, it’s not my position to say exactly what technically went wrong — from what I understood that’s what caused a bunch of these surprise stalls.
“For a driver for sure it’s never comforting to experience it, but I know that when the car is in a normal condition you’re not going to have fear of that happening on a regular basis.
“We experienced a small stall in FP3 and that’s why I had a big gap between my first and second run. I had to wait in the garage for quite a long time because we were investigating it. We didn’t really understand what happened, we assumed a few things but it was a very small stall and this one was triple that. We lost something like 60 points in downforce on entry which is like 60% of the car’s aero.”