Introducing the FW26
Ralf takes to the wheel
page updated 10.02.04
[Ralf on the recent Barcelona test] He's impressed with the new car: The car handles very well and, without going into detail, I can say we are definitely on the right track. source:
See the FW26 in action at Valencia 05.01.04 @

Launch Galleries: --- ---

Despite the pain [of his recent stomach complaint] Ralf took the time to laud the new Williams car: It felt great yesterday, as demonstrated by the lap record, and I thoroughly enjoyed driving it. Unfortunately I could not drive today. source:
The new F2004 looks very similar to last year's F2003-GA whereas the new Williams has made news with a radical front nose unlike anything seen so far in F1. Michael Schumacher agreed it was interesting: If you talk to the designers, you hear that it's a solution that some have tried before so it's not completely unknown for them. So it will be interesting to see how long it goes that way and whether other teams in the end find a solution and go the same route or not. It's an innovation but at the end of the day it has to be quick enough. source:
Ralf has completed a promising initial test in the FW26. He broke the lap record during the seven-day test in Jerez and although his time was later bettered by McLaren rival Kimi Raikkonen he is confident the car will go even quicker.

Ralf: "Driving the FW26 is a lot of fun. I am not going to speak in a superlative way about the car, but everything is very, very promising so far. When you drive a new car you can feel if it's good or bad and the test in Jerez showed that the car behaves very well. Even if I am not watching our competitors too much at the moment, I was pleased to set the new track record and was about to improve it, when a technical problem forced me to call it a day and Kimi Raikkonen managed to set an even better time. We have several areas to improve upon, of course, but this is what winter tests are for"

Juan Pablo Montoya was also impressed after his first run in the FW26 which was likened to a hammer-head shark after its revolutionary twin-keeled nose section source:
Ralf on testing the FW26: "We did a full race distance and it was very good. On heavy fuel, we had no problems at all. It's an easy and nice car to drive... I'm quite happy, it was a good test" source:
Valencia - January 7, 2004: In the bright Spanish sunshine, Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher complete the maiden laps of the team's new challenger for the 2004 Formula One World Championship, the WilliamsF1 BMW FW26. The radical new design of the FW26 attracted widespread commentary for its new nose design and front wing geometry. Juan recorded 14 laps before handing over the car to Ralf who completed a total of 3 laps.

Ralf: "It is always positive if the first day runs according to plan and I can say that the car feels good, perhaps similar to the FW25. I really have high expectations of the radical approach taken to this new car. Of course, the roll out on launch day does not tell us much about the true performance of a new car and I only completed three laps. Basically it is all about installation laps and system checks, so it is far too early to make serious comments about the FW26" source:
Ralf said that the new car gives him reason to be optimistic: "The FW26 is a revolutionary car. It even looks different from what we are used to in Formula One. The aerodynamics are totally new and unlike last season, we know that everything works in the new car" source:
Ralf on the FW26 launch: "Even though a driver is involved in the technical development of a new car, the launch is something special. It feels just like Christmas - you know roughly what you are going to get but you're not exactly sure" source:

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