Chief operations engineer Mark Gillan admits that Williams has been given a boost by its switch to Renault engines for the 2012 F1 season.
The team switches to the same engines used by championship winners Red Bull after two seasons with Cosworth – where the Grove-based team struggled for results.
While testing times can be deceiving, the FW34 has shown encouraging performance so far in the tests held at Jerez and Catalunya with Gillan insisting that the Renault engine had played a big part in the showing so far.
"The engine is just a lot more flexible,” he was quoted by ESPNF1
. "It's definitely a decent step. Working with Renault is very good; they are a very professional outfit. Both of us are still learning each other's processes, but things are going well. We're very, very pleased."
Gillan added that performance in slow-speed corners was one major improvement for the new car, which is completely different to the 2011 machine it replaces.
"A lot of it is down to a better, more stable aerodynamic platform, because although they're slow, aerodynamics are still important,” Gillan said in reference to the slower speed bends. “Indeed, it's probably even more important in the slow speed because that's where the lap time is to be had. That plus the tractability and flexibility of the engine through its range helps as well, it's a mixture of the two.
"It looks similar, but if you were to see the car without its bodywork it is significantly different to last year's. We have gone through every area to see where we are losing performance. So we had a reasonably bad cooling performance and when it got hot we lost quite a lot of performance. We've spent a lot of time dealing with that and improving the bodywork."