© Getty Images

Symonds sure Williams can repeat 2014 step with ’17 car

1 Comment

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.”

James Hinchcliffe on Andretti: ‘It’s certainly the place I want to be’

Leave a comment

Since before the start of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season, James Hinchcliffe tirelessly has worked to ensure the future would include a full-time return in 2021.

And with an opportunity to run the final three races this season with Andretti Autosport, there seems a surefire (albeit unlikely) path.

“If I go out and win all three,” Hinchcliffe joked with IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview Friday (watch the video above), “it would be hard for them to say no, right?”

Regardless of whether he can go unbeaten at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course next weekend or the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida (where he earned his first career win in 2013), Hinchcliffe will have the chance to improve his stock with the team that he knows well and now has an opening among its five cars for 2021.

All three of Hinchcliffe’s starts this season — the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, July 4 at the IMS road course and the Indianapolis 500 — were with Andretti, where he ran full time in IndyCar from 2012-14.

“Obviously, the plan from January 2020 was already working on ’21 and trying to be in a full-time program,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed being reunited with Andretti Autosport, and everybody there has been so supportive. It’s been a very fun year for me on track. It’s been kind of a breath of fresh air in a lot of ways.

“It’s certainly the place I want to be moving forward. We’ve been working on that, working on those conversations. Genesys has been an incredible partner in my three races. We’ll be representing Gainbridge primarily, but Genesys will still have a position on our car in the last three.”

Gainbridge is the primary sponsor of the No. 26 Dallara-Honda that was vacated by Zach Veach, who left the team after it was determined he wouldn’t return in 2021. Hinchcliffe can empathize having lost his ride with Arrow McLaren SP after last season with a year left on his deal.

“You never want to earn a ride at the expense of somebody else in the sense that has happened here with Zach,” Hinchcliffe said. “I feel bad that he’s not able to see out the last three races of his season. I’ve got a lot of respect for him off track. He’s been a teammate this year, a colleague for years before that and honestly a friend for years before that. I’ve got a lot of time for him and his family. I understand a little bit of what it’s like in that position and what he’s going through.”

Hinchcliffe is ready to seize the moment, though, starting with the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He had been hoping to add the Harvest Indy Grand Prix to his schedule and had been working out for the possibility.

“Then last week I had given up hope (and) was resigned that wasn’t happening,” he said. “I told my trainer, ‘I think we’re done for this year.’ Three days later, this call comes. I’m glad we didn’t make that decision too early. I feel great physically.

“I look at it as a great opportunity to continue to show I’ve still got what it takes and should be there hopefully full time next year on the grid.”

Watch Hinchliffe’s video with Leigh Diffey above or by clicking here.