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Symonds eyes 2014 improvement as he starts new challenge at Williams
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Symonds XPB
Posted By: James Allen  |  21 Aug 2013   |  11:22 pm GMT  |  46 comments

Pat Symonds is targeting a big push on the development of Williams’ 2014 car as he begins work with the team in his new role as technical director.

The 60-year-old left Marussia last month to take up his new role at the Grove-based team who have scored just one point this season and sit ninth in the constructors’ championship.

While Symonds is still hoping for an improvement this season, starting with this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix – which will be his first race with his new team – he is aware focus needs to switch to 2014 to prepare for the new regulations.

Symonds, who was race engineer to Michael Schumacher when he won two titles with Benetton, said: “There are developments going on for the remainder of this season. We have new parts coming to races as far out as Korea and beyond. They are not things I’ve had influence on but I can see them in the development programme.

“I hope we can look at some smaller details from the wind tunnel to improve things over the coming races and I’ll be looking at the operational side too. Fundamentally focus has to be much more towards 2014 as it’s an immensely difficult programme, the most difficult we have had to tackle for a long while.

“The FW36 is well underway and I think it’s important I get my influence onto that. However, my influence will be much more on process rather than detail, so I hope that pays off and leads to the sort of structure that can lead to on-going success for the team.”

Symonds, who stayed with Benetton when they became Renault, winning further constructors’ and drivers’ titles as the team’s executive director of engineering, added that his aim to return the team to the front of the grid – but admitted it will take time.

“My primary aim is to bring success back to the team and I will be very singular in my focus to achieve that,” he added. “I want the people who are working with me to enjoy that success and be an integral part of bringing Williams back to where I think it should be. It will take time to analyse what is happening and improve things but it’s up to me to facilitate this process.”

Williams have won nine constructors’ championships and seven drivers’ titles, but the last of each of those came back in 1997. The team have also won just one race – the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix – since 2004.

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46 Comments
  1. Phil Glass says:

    Could this be where Kimi is heading next year?
    Persuasive Claire.

    1. Graham says:

      Why on earth would Kimi leave Lotus for Williams ?

      Williams attitude to drivers has always been that they are paid to drive the car, nothing else – look at how successive world champions were treated all those years ago;

      So unless they are going to pay him to drive a car demonstrably as good if not better than the rest, why would he ?

  2. Chris Livingston says:

    It makes me cry that the team I love through thick and thin have become desperate enough to employ this [mod]

  3. docjkm says:

    Good luck sir, and happy hunting.

  4. Peter says:

    Go for it Pat
    I’ve always thought you were on of the best if
    great to see you back with a team that I want to succeed

  5. Joe S says:

    Williams have spent most of the last decade as being an also-ran, a team that looked nothing like many of its previous campaigns. You often see people talk of bringing them back their former glories but whenever I read that, I roll my eyes.

    Yes, they’re one of the great teams but it’s very hard to see them being consistently fighting for championships again.

    1. Danf1 says:

      A few years ago it was hard to see Red Bull regularly fighting for wins, let alone championships…

  6. Keith says:

    It is good to see Pat Symonds back, no matter what people may think of Crashgate. He is of the old school solid engineering, who wants to go racing. What Williams really needs is a visionary – blue sky thinker – designer, like a Newey or James Allison. Pair that person up with Symonds solid engineering and you just might have a winning team again.
    Very much like what Patrick Head did with Newey, and look what they won with that pairing. Now all Williams need to do is find that person.
    There factory is state of the art – first class, and so are the people working there. A nice size, very loyal work force, which has won in the past and can do it again.
    I think Pat Symonds will move them a few places up the grid, but they still need that one magic ingredient – a designer with vision

    1. Paul Kirk says:

      And, of course, MONEY! And I understand they will have more of that for 2014. (Good news!)
      PK.

  7. Random 79 says:

    Hopefully he can help get Williams back on track – it would be nice them a bit nearer to the front again.

  8. Cali says:

    Considering just how bad Williams have been doing.. who knows, maybe a 60yr old tech director is what they need.

    1. Mike says:

      You can tell from reading some peoples comments that they really don’t have a clue what they are talking about.

    2. Peter C says:

      Better huge experience & proven ability than some one younger who talks about “blue-sky thinking”.

      1. Keith says:

        If you go back, like me to the very early 1980’s and you sat watching the F1 cars testing in Spain, the game you use to play is guess the name of the car. In those days, most of the cars came for testing without any sponsors logo’s on them. You could also tell the difference in the car via there engine sounds. Of course those days are long gone.

        Fast forward today, and take all the cars on the grid and paint them the same colour, remove all the sponsors logos and colour scheme and now many fans would be able to pick out there teams car? Very few if any.

        The cars today, all look like they have been designed by the numbers, and of course the regulation they work under. The speed difference today is very different than the 1980’s and the 1990’s. The grid is much more closely packed. So for your team to be a winner, you need someone who can think outside the box, and take a racial chance on a different approach, but you still need to make sure that car – package finishes the race. You only win races if you finish them.

        An old school engineer like Symonds is the key person to have next to your wild blue eye thinker – designer, who can pull them back in line, but also has the knowledge and experience over the years to know when something, just might work.

        Take the risk. Don’t play it by the numbers

  9. forzaminardi says:

    Insert “Harvey Postlethwaite” for Symonds and “Tyrrell” for Williams and there we have James Allen’s Patented F1 Time Travelling Machine(tm).

  10. Alec Tronnach says:

    I’m surprised that in your potted history of Mr Symonds you didn’t mention that he is one of only 2 people to have been kicked out of the sport for cheating. It is a fairly important detail in his CV.

    1. Cali says:

      that would make him look worse than “just” a washed up engineer, so it gets omitted :)

  11. goferet says:

    Well it seems Williams is going through the labour pains that Ferrari went through back in the 80s and 90s.

    But as shown by Ferrari, you can’t keep a winner down too long for ultimately they pick themselves up and it’s good times all over again.

    As Ferrari’s example showed, the team need a complete overhaul i.e. they need to bring in a whole new bunch of talented people most especially a world class driver.

    Unfortunately, all these changes need money which Williams does not have in plenty at the moment but with the hiring of Symonds and the switch to the Mercedes engines, I reckon Williams are taking the first steps to recovery.

    1. jd says:

      the difference here is that Ferrari were never wanting for money . . . sponsors where always ready to fill a void, if one where to present itself. Williams, on the other hand, are beholden to the money being brought in by Pastor Maldonado (via PDVSA).

  12. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

    James – Where do you think it went wrong for Williams? Some place the blame at Sam Michael’s feet, but doubtless losing BMW and key sponsors put them on the backfoot technically and financially.

    It almost seems like Williams needs the support of a benevolent billionaire allowing them to compete on a stronger footing with the other giants of the sport.

  13. TheLollipopMan says:

    Symonds was a scapegoat in Crashgate. He’s an excellent engineer who was behind Alonso’s two would championships, and has helped Marussia leapfrog the Caterhams in performance this year. It’s a good move by Williams. I’m amazed it didn’t happen sooner.

  14. F1Ray says:

    Nowadays, they really appear to be the team that employs F1 people, who have been previously banned from the sport for various alleged wrongdoings. F. William’s and Head’s stern stance on not bending to accommodate good engineering staff, drivers, and some suppliers, has now well and truly bitten them. Letting Newey go, instead of giving him a small slice of the candy, must surely be viewed as one of their biggest mistakes. From THE team to be with, in the early nineties, to a team more like Jordan were, back in those days. Pay drivers and asking for engines, as opposed to offers from people and Companies, wanting to be associated with the team.

    1. Thompson says:

      It’s bitten them long enough – the train robbers only got 25years

    2. Sebee says:

      What you should be wondering instead is, what moves could Williams have made, if any, to keep BMW in the sport with them.

      Seems like BMW wanted a piece of the team, and Williams said no. Meanwhile, now…how many people have a peace seems that they hand out a % to anyone and everyone. It was the worse play in retrospect and doomed the team to it’s current nearly irrelevant existance. Shame really. A true hero to zero story this period. I really hope they can go zero to hero again.

    3. Sebee says:

      BTW…that Williams win last year…it still doesn’t smell right to me. Something just gives me acid reflux…did they have more power or somehow allowed to run something illegal on the car? I’m very suspicious of that performance. It was a dry race, right?

      1. Tim says:

        Maybe it was a present from Bernie, for Franks 70th Birthday :-)

      2. Sebee says:

        Thanks Tim for connecting the dots for me, that makes perfect sense. Seriously, what did Frank want more than anything for his 70th?

      3. Tyemz says:

        Something Illegal? like being allowed to win two races with holes in the floor of the car you mean?
        Last year’s Williams could have given us more if Maldonado had not forgotten how to drive when there were other drivers on track or which direction he was meant to drive, Spinning, crashing into other drivers and into walls. I don’t know what gave you the idea that a midfield team should never challenge for the win at any point in the season. I bet 2013, compared to 2012, will go down in history as a very boring season cos we could always predict our top 6 whereas 2012 had the Saubers, the FIs the Williams etc in the mix of things throughout the season.

  15. AuraF1 says:

    Brilliant and if Williams need another crash gate that should be easy for Pat to organise with Maldonado driving! Pat will need to sit down and explain how it’s supposed to crash on purpose though…

    Sorry this guy voluntarily put lives of marshals and spectators at risk (his drivers accepted the risk of course). In most reasonable societies he’d be in prison now.

    Cheating against the rules of a sport may be wrong but it doesn’t always set out to throw debris over a track wall.

    Coughlan may have copied technical specs and that’s unethical – symonds conspired to win a race by getting a weak and terrified driver to drive into a wall. Just think about that…we have drug scandals at the Olympics and athletics – but they’re not in charge of machinery travelling at high speed carrying fuel and liable to throw debris over a crowded street.

  16. Dale says:

    How sad it is to see Williams just about hanging in nowadays, still living on past glories.
    Williams are, in my opinion, the Tyrells of 2013, yesterdays men and the likes of convicted cheats will not change that.
    I always had the utmost respect for Symonds before all the ‘crashgate’ saga came to light – no sorry, for me F1 is better without the likes of Symonds and frankly Frank Williams is no longer the ‘fair play, upstanding and principled man I thought him to be for employing him.

  17. Fellowes says:

    Whilst William’s path is similar to that of Tyrell and Lotus, I think there are two key differences why I believe they will return to the front – 1. Frank is handing the reins to Claire to maintain a family succession (and avoiding the team dying with him), 2. their core business is engineering and F1 (no distractions, no conflicting priorities).
    We wait and see if Pat will make a difference, but in any case, I am confident that Williams will once again be a force (although probably not within the next 5 years) – manufacturers and marketing/syndicate teams will come and go, but Williams will be constant.

    1. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

      Without knowing Claire personally, “keeping it in the family” can be an enormous business risk. Professional managers currently in the team could take this to mean they’ll never be promoted to team principal and therefore leave, worsening the current situation.

  18. peruvian says:

    I never understood F.Williams attitud towards his team and place in history, I am taling about, letting go of champions the following year, thinking that any driver can win a championship driving his cars… how selfish a person can be… i don’t get it, but he (Frank), is an owner of a F1 team and I am not, true, how ever I do know that in life, in order to get, you first need to give….. so he is not getting wins, because he is not giving his workers $$… my 0.02

  19. Oz Geeza says:

    Mr Allen,slightly of the track,but please a
    question for you if I may.
    I have a lot of time for Pat Fry,as a family
    man and as Engineer perhaps one of the very
    tops in F1,my question to you Sir,is the
    arrival of Mr James Allison to Maranello
    demonetise Pat Fry position?.
    Who will be at the Ferrari pit wall,perhaps
    as early as from this w/end at SPA F1.
    Fry or Allison?.

    1. James Allen says:

      Allison will be senior to Fry, as I understand it

      1. Oz Geeza says:

        Thank you kindly.

  20. Thompson says:

    Symonds deserves this opportunity.

    Thinking outside the box for a moment would it be crazy to hire an ex driver too, someone like Damon Hill with regards assisting the development of the current car and the 2014 motor.

    I know many feel this is the domain of engineers but getting someone with an understanding of ‘feel’ may be what WIlliams really needs. Designing a car purely based on figures doesn’t seem to work which is what separates Newey cars from the others.

    Williams need to start thinking way outside the box and go back to working and developing as they did in the glory days

    1. Jonathan says:

      wouldn’t going back to the old ways be the complete opposite of thinking outside the box? Thinking outside the box is about looking for new ideas.

      1. Thompson says:

        No, considering everybody else is going the way of CAD and wind tunnel data with results not matching up with simulation projections it makes sense to go back to what worked
        It just needs one person to realise this and make the change regards car design to take it back to basics for the team to move forward

      2. Jonathan says:

        The old ways have been banned. ferrari have an almost unused test track. All the teams used to spend millions with test drivers pounding out lap after lap of development work using flo viz paint and test rigs watching certain elements of the car.

        Thinking out of the box is what Mercedes did when helping Pirelli with a tyre test – and wriggling out of a harsher penalty. Many called it cheating – but all the top teams do in some way.

  21. Louis says:

    Guys, give the guy a chance to redeem himself.

    Pat made a critical mistake and paid the price for it and served his punishment, why can’t he be given the chance to start again? Who hasn’t made a bad mistake in their life / career?

    i reckon Pat Symonds has a genuine passion in F1 (you can’t not have it to have worked so many years in this sport), and who wants to waste all those knowledge because of one bad mistake?

    1. Chris says:

      +1 besides that whole sorry saga had flav all over it imo.

    2. Monza71 says:

      Whatever has gone on before, anyone who has listened to Pat in the podcasts he has done, most recently for Motor Sport Magazine can have no doubt of his passion and expertise.

      It’s hard to imagine that Crashgate could have been instigated by Pat himself, I suspect he was a reluctant conspirator.

      We all want to see Williams return to the front of the grid. Pat is one of the only people other than Brawn, Newey or Allison who we could reasonably expect to be able to do succeed.

      On Jame’s August Podcast, Ross Brawn said that the grid will be more spread out in 2014 as some will get the new technology right and others not.

      Let’s hope that Williams have a bit of luck and are one of the teams that will get it right.

  22. Jonathan says:

    Developing in the old ways simply cannot happen now.

    The old way was to have your development driver bashing out lap after lap at a test track – which is why ferrari have one of their own.

    Nowadays that element is banned so the teams pour millions into improving their simulators which is what they now use to try and make improvements.

  23. Mr Brooksy says:

    I hope against hope that Williams can climb back to the front soon. As a passionate fan, this year has been such a let down from a minor resurgence last year. Whether Symonds can bring back the Williams touch from the 80′s and 90′s. I don’t know. But anything is better than our current situation!

    On another note. James could you please put a Williams related photo on the header of the Williams news page? For the 2nd most successful team of all time to not have their own car as their header is just weird. No offense intended but a Sauber just doesn’t represent this historically amazing team.

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