The Infamous Williams FW16

The Infamous Williams FW16

Designed by Adrian Newey, the FW16 was Williams car for the 1994 Formula One season. For most enthusiasts, it is the car that was driven by Senna when he lost his life in the notorious Tamburello corner in Imola, Italy. The car was a passive evolution of the FW14 and FW15C cars previously raced by Williams. Its engine was supplied by Renault, an RS6 3.5 V10 engine. The car had a few changes oer the previous FW15C such as revised bodywork, a low profile engine cover, taller sidepods, enclosed driveshaft and an anhedral rear wing lower element. It also featured an innovative rear suspension wishbone design as well as a fuel valve that made mid-race refuelling possible.

Previous to the Imola race, the car had shown lack of performance in the early season. A lot of its performance relied on external factors rather than mechanical ones. Early problems led to multiple aerodynamic changes, especially the front wing. The wing was too sensitive to the rideheight and going over a bump in a corner, the front of the car would pickup magnitudes more downforce than the rear causing the car to lose tail traction. A comprehensive set of modifications were introduced at Imola such as a revised nose provile with higher positioning for the wings, new aerodynamic end plates, a revised wheelbase and a re-shaped cockpit surround. Senna also had an input on the car since it was not comfortable to drive, which led to changes in the steering column design. To accommodate his desires, they welded an additional extension onto the steering column.

After noting that the car seemed unstable to drive and it would seemingly change its driving characteristic (understeer and oversteer) at free will, Senna complained about the stability of the car to the team. However, he still went behind the wheel and eventually met his demise 12.8 seconds into the race. He entered the corner at a speed of 310,6 km/h with a race line that was faster but bumpier. As proved by video evidence, his car had "bottomed" here as shown by the sparks. Even the Opel Vectra safety car ahead was too low and bottomed out. In the 7th lap, he entered the corner with a faster and more dangerous line, resulting in the stalling of the aerodynamics and loss of grip, a negative effect that was made worse by the tyres not being up to working pressures or temperatures.

You now have an incredible chance of owning a piece of racing history, closely tied with Ayrton Senna himself; the Williams FW15D car that he thoroughly tested in the 1994 season of F1. It was the predecessor to the notorious FW16 and it served as testing ground for its development. Discover and purchase the FW15D on TheArsenale here. 


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