Symonds did not expect strong Force India challenge

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Williams chief technical officer Pat Symonds admits he has been surprised by Force India’s strong challenge this year, though he was prepared to see his team take a step down in 2016.

The Grove-based outfit entered the current campaign on the back of two consecutive third-place finishes in the Formula One Constructors’ championship.

But after Williams battled better-funded teams across the first couple of years in the latest 1.6-litre V6 turbocharged era, Symonds knew it would be a tall order to match its previous achievements.

“If I’m completely honest last year I said to the board that I believed we would be fourth in the championship, so finishing third last year was quite a surprise to me,” he told F1i’s Chris Medland. “I think this year I still felt fourth was the position that we would be.”

Although Williams slipped behind Red Bull from the onset, the revered British team still looked like a safe bet for P4 until Force India, which had only scored 14 points across the opening five races, came charging.

Symonds identifies the revised VJM09 package introduced in Barcelona as the starting point of their rivals' recovery.

“I didn’t expect the fight from Force India that we got, I’ll be honest, but I don’t think we actually improved our car enough over the winter.

“Of course this year we haven’t put as much development on it as normal [with radical regulation changes planned for 2017] but I suspect that’s true of others as well.

“But perhaps the one that’s caught us is Force India and their major upgrade that they did - irrespective of their little ones - was pretty damn impressive. I was surprised by that.

“So we made the decision to switch to the 2017 car quite early but I don’t think that’s really reflected in our position now. I think that’s much more the fact that Force India did a very good upgrade and we didn’t do a good enough job over the winter. I think they’re the two things combined to put us where we are now.”

Williams trails Force India by 10 points entering this weekend’s United States Grand Prix.

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