Veteran engineer Pat Symonds admits factory Merc squad is still out front, but thinks Williams is poised to lead the chase.
Williams chief technical officer Pat Symonds believes his squad are in good shape to take the fight to Mercedes in this year’s Formula One World Championship – but admits they have a performance gap to close with its 2015 car.
Drivers Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas have both shown solid speed over the 11 days of testing so far, and both reported the FW37 is a step forward from the car that, along with Red Bull, often challenged Mercedes hardest last year.
“It looks like Mercedes has the upper hand,” said Symonds, “and we’ve all got to work hard to get them.
Symonds had hoped that Williams were going to close the gap on the World Champions with its new car, but Nico Rosberg’s superb laptime on the soft tyre with its new car on Friday has made his reappraise the situation.
“I was quite surprised at the laptime they did yesterday, I thought we had a handle on where there were until that point,” he added.
“It was pretty impressive, I thought. But I certainly don’t think we’re in a bad position.”
Upbeat over testing so far
The former Toleman, Benetton, Renault and Virgin/Marussia man was bullish about how testing has gone for the Grove-based team.
“So far it’s gone quite smoothly,” he said. “Just 12 days to cover all the reliability of the systems, as well as performance, requires a lot of discipline.
“It’s gone absolutely on plan. We haven’t spent a lot of time chasing performance in the car, at this final test we’re starting to exercise it a little bit, see what we can get out of it, and it looks reasonably promising at the moment.”
FW37 now 'close to Melbourne-spec'
Symonds also outlined what specification the car was running in, and said the FW37 was “very close to Melbourne spec, two or three small parts that’ll evaluate on Friday in Melbourne.
“We certainly haven’t dropped off from last year, we’ve continued the solid progress," he added. "There’s a lot to do yet, there’s a lot of potential we haven’t reached yet.
“Rear stability and corner entry was our limiting factor as well as total downforce. Those were the areas we went after, we’ve made quite some significant changes at the rear. It looks like we’ve certainly tackled some of those areas.”