Claire Williams says Williams Martini Racing is already working on its 2016 F1 contender as it looks to take advantage of next year's static set of regulations.
Following its return to front running performance in 2014 on the back of the most recent wholesale change in the regulations, Williams has consolidated its upturn in fortunes in 2015 to sit a comfortable third in the constructors' standings, 65 points clear of Red Bull Racing.
It's a margin for error that is allowing Williams to turn its attentions towards next season, with development of its 2016 car – the FW38 – well underway.
The earliest the team has ever begun work on a successor according to deputy team principal Williams, she says the move - which has been made possible by the likelihood of there being relatively few changes to the regulations in 2016 – could help it establish a jump on its main rivals.
“We started building, developing and designing the '38' which is next year's car, much earlier than we ever have,” she told Crash.net
. “It's to do with the fact that from 2017 we know the way the technical regulations are going to go and of course there are changes.
“We know we've got a really good platform in the car that we have and that we've developed over this period of technical regulations. It's really important that we capitalise on the stability we have got in the regulations. Another reason is to get a jump on it, so the two combined, hopefully 2016 will be a good year off the back of that for us.”
Despite this, Williams insists this is not coming at the expense of developing the current FW37 package, saying it upgrades will continue to be introduced to the end of the season.
“With the job that the guys back at the factory are doing, there is no let up. They've had to run these two programmes in parallel and you see we are now two thirds of the way through the year and we're still bringing upgrades, we're still driving performance in the car and we have a strong pathway throughout the remaining races. I'm really pleased at the way that we are performing in the development race.”