Williams are adamant that the shake-up in regulations for this year could see them make a big step forward in performance
Although the team drew short of making firm predictions for the forthcoming campaign during a pre-season media event at their factory today, there was a mood of optimism that the rewriting of the rule book could help the outfit rediscover their front-running form.
Nico Rosberg said: "The rule changes are a fantastic thing for us, definitely. A really good thing for us. There's no copying to do, nothing. It's just your own ideas. You start from zero, from scratch, like every other team. You have this set of rules and you need to make the best possible car for it.
"More so than ever, the most important thing is to have creative ideas, to be ingenious, to come up with some fantastic things. Using the grey areas - in a new set of rules there are always grey areas where they haven't been clear enough to specify certain things, which some teams won't realise. You've got to make sure that you don't realise that there's a possibility to do something special. That's the most important thing with these new rules and that's the reason why it's a really fantastic chance for us as a team.
"Over the years at the aerodynamic department there are a lot of new people who have come in from different teams - we have ex-Ferrari people, from Renault in their world championship years, who are now with us in the aerodynamic department.
"I think they've become a very strong and personally I have a lot of faith in their ability. I'm talking so much about aerodynamics because it's the main things nowadays that decides the performance of an F1 car and I really have faith in the aero department and the rest of the factory also, and I think it's a great chance for Williams as a result."
His teammate Kazuki Nakajima added: "Yes, I think it's a big chance for us. At the testing tracks, everybody looks very close and it's still too early to talk about performance comparisons. But at the moment everything is very positive for us and I'm just really looking forward to the new season."
Technical director Sam Michael said the early indications from testing pointed to no team having an advantage at the moment.
"This year we have a massive regulations change and with those changes, if you look at the couple of tests we have done so far, there hasn't been more than a couple of tenths between the teams," explained Michael. "It was like that for the three teams in Bahrain, it was like that for the rest of the teams that were testing in Jerez - so that is the current sign.
"There is no one who is one second in front of anyone, so that gives you the best hope that it is going to be very tight and competitive. But also finding one or two tenths will make a big difference."
Team boss Frank Williams was aware that the regulations changes did provide an opportunity for his outfit to make amends for recent disappointing campaigns - as he eyed the team fighting just outside the top three.
When asked if he was optimistic about Williams' chances for 2009, he said: "Cautiously, but we haven't seen what anyone else has done yet.
"The cars are quite different so there is a chance for everybody to make up ground if they were behind. So you might see a few surprises in the first few tests, but it won't be anything dramatic. Although there might be a bit of movement up and down the grid."
Despite his feelings about how close things were, Michael was well aware that planned changes that teams would introduce to their cars over the next few weeks could yet change the form book completely.
"I would say there are two or three tenths spread across everybody," he said. "Obviously the next two tests the teams will all run together, so you will see all the teams in one position and one track at the same time, but it is too hard to tell.
"I think all the development that people do with KERS, weight distribution and set-up and aero parts before Melbourne means it could change again, so even if you say you are two tenths ahead of someone now, in two tests by Melbourne you could be three tenths behind."
At the event, the FW31 featured some striking new cockpit sails to help direct airflow over the car.
"They are called skate fins, because they are similar to what you see on a surfboard," said Michael. "They are likely to remain, but like any part there could be a development on the car than changes the nature of the car, so they could change shape or we could remove them completely."
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