Williams Formula 1 team principal James Vowles has admitted the FW45’s floor is “lacking detail” after photographs allowed a comparison with the cars of leading rivals.
The floor was exposed after Logan Sargeant crashed at the final corner in FP3 in Barcelona and his car was loaded onto a truck.
That came just a week after the undersides of the Red Bull RB19 and Mercedes W14 were both captured after accidents in Monaco led to them being craned away.
The apparent simplicity of the Williams floor in comparison to those of other cars – especially the Red Bull – was hard for observers to miss.
Vowles says the rear angle of the pictures didn't flatter the Williams, but he conceded that the floor is not as complex as those of other cars.
"There are photos taken of our floor this weekend after Logan went off in FP3," he said in a team video. "And obviously those have been compared to photography taken of our competitors just a few weeks ago.
"I think one thing to point out is they're a little bit deceptive. What's happened here is it's very focused on that rear diffuser ramp, unlike the other photos that perhaps focus more on the front of the floor and the mid-floor where you can actually within the regulations add more detail.
"All that said and done though, we are clearly lacking detail really to our competitors. But you wouldn't have needed the underside of the floor to know that – you can see it from lap times.
"That's fundamentally a feature of balance characteristics and how the car's performance and downforce as well at the same time. And a lot of that is being generated by the floor."
Vowles insisted that teams cannot just copy what they see on other cars, while acknowledging that there's always something to be learned.
"Understanding what your competitors do by getting an image of it and simply copying it won't help you. It may give you an instantaneous leg up and understanding of where you should be moving forward.
"But if you don't understand the science and the reason behind it, and the flow dynamics, you'll just have a moment in time rather than an idea of how to consistently develop to become not just as good as them, but better.
"Furthermore, whatever you've seen in the competitor is at least six to eight weeks out of date and where they are now is further forward.
"So the clues behind it or the key behind it all is actually understanding why have they developed the floor in the way that they have? And what can we learn from it and apply to where we are today to advance our learning and our understanding?
"And that is going on all the time. But what you can't do is go away for some deep-rooted methods and systems that you need to actually understand how to generate downforce in an efficient manner for the car you have.
"Our priority is to learn from others when we need to, but make sure we carry on developing our build cycle the way we know will develop over time into a faster and faster car."