Williams has been forced to abandon the augmented reality app launch of its Williams FW43B 2021 Formula 1 car due to hacking.
The car will still be revealed today at 1400 UK time with rendered images being issued, but the app has been removed from the Apple App Store and Android Google Play store.
The augmented reality app allowed users to view the car either at full size or table-top size, with the interface allowing it to be viewed from any angle.
But hacking – which Williams stresses happened “completely outside of Williams Racing’s in-house systems and networks, which are protected by leading cyber security companies with whom we are proud to partner” – has led to several leaks of images of the new car.
“Williams Racing planned to reveal its 2021 challenger, the FW43B, via an augmented reality app later today (5th March). However, sadly, because the app was hacked prior to launch, this will no longer be possible,” said a team statement.
“We have subsequently removed the app from both the Apple App Store and Android Google Play store.
“We were very much looking forward to sharing this experience with our fans, particularly during this difficult time when being able to bring in-person experiences directly to our fans is sadly not possible.
“We can only apologise that this has not been possible.”
THE RACE SAYS
The idea of launching the Williams FW43B using an augmented reality app was a good one with a benefit both to fans, who would get a unique view of the car and its new livery, and to the team – which would benefit from the mass sharing of images on social media.
The app was built and operational so the reason for its withdrawal is legitimate.
Having seen how it worked, it wouldn’t have disappointed. Fans would have had the chance to see the car ‘build’ first with the key structures coming together, then the final colour scheme being overlaid.
Not only did it allow the car to be viewed from all angles except below, but it also permitted a close look at details that are usually difficult to see – for example, the under-nose aerodynamics.
Inevitably, the model will have been built to avoid giving away any secrets, but it was a fun, easy to use and enjoyable way to give fans a look at the car.
For that reason, it deserved to work and it’s to the credit of the team and new owner Dorilton Capital that it attempted such an innovative launch – even if problems of cyber security scuppered it being revealed in this unconventional way.
Williams has already run its FW43B on track during a promotional day at Silverstone, although no images were revealed of the unliveried car.
This will be the team’s first full season under the ownership of Dorliton Capital, which took over the team last year, with Jost Capito as CEO and Simon Roberts now full-time team principal having originally held the role on an interim basis.
Williams failed to score a point last season and finished last in the constructors’ championship for the third consecutive year, although its overall performance level was significantly better than in 2019.