Where and why Williams has been caught out


As the introduction of the current power unit regulations highlights so clearly, new rules present big opportunities for teams to turn their fortunes around. So having had so much longer working on next year’s car than in previous seasons, is Symonds excited to see if the earlier switch has paid off?

“No, not at all!

“Firstly we made the decision to switch early but I think most people did. I don’t actually think we switched any earlier than anyone else. When you talk about switching earlier, you’re talking about the wind tunnel stage of things. By the time something has been proven in the wind tunnel, it comes out, goes through design, goes through production, depending on the complexity of the part it’s actually quite a long process. When you see bits that are coming out in late summer they’ve been in our world for a long while before that.

“Right now I’m intrigued at the amount of performance we’re putting on the car in the wind tunnel, but I’ve been in this business for 40 years and I know other people will be thinking the same thing. So everything is relative. Interestingly enough we normally work with targets in the wind tunnel. We haven't got targets for next year, we’ve got expectations, because I don't know the target until I see where everybody else is.”

One area Williams has not had to worry over the past three years is on the power unit front, with the Mercedes engine the class of the field. Symonds appreciates it is harder to become winners as a customer - especially one unable to match the budget of the likes of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull - but is confident Williams in its current guise can still achieve his goal.

I have to believe it’s possible [to beat the top three teams], it’s just difficult. But I like difficult.”

“I think Mercedes are very fair with us. I know there have been times when we’ve run the engine harder than they have, particularly when we were fighting closer to the front in 2014. But, I have to accept yes they have the potential to always be a step ahead of us on the power unit, therefore my job is to be a step ahead of them on aerodynamics and that is what I strive for.

“At the moment when you've got three teams that are spending in excess of £200million I think it’s really, really hard because they can plough money into that attention to detail. But it’s not impossible. We’ve shown that in 2014 and 2015, in both years we beat one of those teams with that sort of budget. And it wasn’t the same team, it was two different teams. So I have to believe it’s possible, it’s just difficult. But I like difficult.”

And Symonds - who recently played down reports he would retire in the near future - is clear on what his ambition is for Williams, while also giving away just how dissatisfied he will inevitably be at the end of this season.

“Winning the world championship. Absolutely.

“No, actually, it’s a bit like a race. I always feel a race is good if we’ve been on the podium, I always feel it’s been s**t if we haven’t. I guess it’s the same with the championship. I don’t mind too much being in the top three, but I don’t like anything other than that.

But, I want to win the championship again. I’ve done it a few times…”

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