The BMW WilliamsF1 Team unveiled its 2004 World Championship contender, the FW26, at the Valencia circuit in Spain on Monday. And while the car remains very similar to last season’s FW25, its new front profile caused quite a stir.

The BMW WilliamsF1 Team unveiled its 2004 World Championship contender, the FW26, at the Valencia circuit in Spain on Monday. And while the car remains very similar to last season’s FW25, its new front profile caused quite a stir.

The design of the snub nose and forward extended front wing have been described as “radical”, combined with the new BMW P84 engine, gearbox and differential that the BMW WilliamsF1 team insist will make theirs the car to beat in this year’s championship.

Team principal Frank Williams said: "Our ambition can be nothing other than to win most races, steal Ferrari's crown and add another Championship title to the record. Having any less ambition at the start of the year would be wrong."

"We have acknowledged our shortcomings of 2003. In 2004, we must be competitive from the off if we are to realise our potential. I have every confidence that the team has all the elements necessary to win in 2004 -- we must simply seize the opportunity."

The pair of Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher took to the track in mild Spanish weather where both experienced good first impressions of the car.

“My first impression of the FW26 is very good,” said Montoya. “The car doesn’t feel a lot different from last year’s, which is a very good start and I think we have an excellent potential car. The dusty track conditions were not 100 per cent ideal today and we only completed six hard laps, so I don’t want to sound too optimistic, but there isn’t a single area that doesn’t work. I am very, very pleased, I think this car has got a good future,” he concluded.

Teammate Ralf Schumacher was a lot more guarded. “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.”

Original article from Car