Symonds sure Williams can repeat 2014 step with ’17 car

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Williams technical director Pat Symonds is confident the British team can repeat the step it made heading into 2014 upon the change in Formula 1’s regulations for next season.

After finishing ninth in the constructors’ championship in 2013, Williams bounced back in style the following season, ending the year third after capitalizing on the new technical regulations.

Another overhaul is planned for 2017, offering Williams what Symonds believes to be an opportunity to bridge the gap to Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull ahead.

Much of Williams’ advantage lay with its Mercedes power unit, but with Ferrari and Renault cutting the gap to the German marque, the likes of Ferrari and Red Bull have been able to slip ahead.

“It just gets harder [as engines converge]. But on the other hand it is also an opportunity,” Symonds told the official F1 website.

“The 2013 car was aerodynamically very poor. The 2014 car was a major step forward under the new regulations and I have no reason to believe that we can’t do it again.”

Symonds confirmed that the majority of Williams’ efforts are now going into the 2017 car, believing that a small team cannot leave the switch too late.

“The point at which we’ve had more people working on the 2017 car than the 2016 car probably occurred in early June, something like that,” Symonds said.

“I am not sure exactly as we don’t make headcounts on that, but early June is my estimation. We are a small team and we really couldn’t afford to leave things very late.

“Teams like ourselves, Force India or Toro Rosso have to make such a switch early, whereas the Ferraris, the Red Bulls, the Mercedes and McLarens of this world, they have double the headcount that we have and can run parallel much longer.”

NEOM McLaren Formula E announces Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast for 2023 season

McLaren Formula E Hughes
McLaren Racing

Doubling down on their commitment to electric auto sports, McLaren Racing announced Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast to compete in the 2023 Formula E Series (FE), which completes their driver lineup.

The NEOM McLaren FE team was formed by the acquisition of the Mercedes-EQ Formula E team that won the 2021 and 2022 championships with Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries behind the wheel.

“Today’s announcement feels like a long time coming,” said Ian James, managing director of NEOM McLaren Electric Racing in a release. “Since May this year, when we first announced McLaren Racing’s entry into Formula E, we have been working tirelessly to get in place the best possible team and structure for sustainable success.

“On the one hand, we have been working on the retention of the amazing talent that already was in place before going into the transitional phase. I’m proud to say I think we’ve done a great job on that front.

“On the other hand, we have been focusing on putting in place new processes and new talent – and the latter includes the drivers.”

The driver lineup clasps the two hands together.

Hughes brings 10 years racing experience in single seater cars, including a role with the acquired Mercedes-EQ team as a reserve and development driver for the past two seasons. He is the 2013 BRDC Formula 4 champion and has multiple wins in Formula 2, including two in 2020.

Announced in August, Rast joins the team after earning two podium finishes and six top-fives in 22 career Formula E starts for Audi Sport ABT before returning to the DTM Series last year. Rast’s best finish in Formula E came in the Puebla E Prix when he finished second to teammate Lucas di Grassi by less than a half second.

McLaren’s commitment to Formula E comes one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour in the driver lineup. After a modest start to the season, the McLaren XE drivers crossed the finish line first in Round 4 in Chile, but were assessed a time penalty that dropped them to fifth. Last week in the season finale in Uruguay, they held onto a hard-earned second place finish.