Former Renault technical chief Pat Symonds believes the banning of blown diffuser technologies in Formula 1 will help smaller teams like Marussia to be competitive.
Symonds was hired by what was then known as Virgin Racing to undertake a full review of its operation in a bid to improve its fortunes during a disappointing 2011 season. Now a consultant for the team, Symonds admitted Marussia is facing an enormous challenge as it bids to close the gap to the midfield, but said the new rules could aid its cause.
"The major change for 2012 is the fact the blown diffuser is going away," Symonds said at the AUTOSPORT International motorsports show. "For small teams like ours that is not a bad thing. It was difficult to understand and make work, and the new regulations make things a little bit easier.
"Marussia in total employs about 170 people, compared to about 650 for Red Bull and 550 for Lotus and Mercedes. It's an enormous challenge, and we have a mountain to climb, but there is so much good spirit and ambition and I'm thoroughly enjoying it."
Symonds said that he had been able to take a slightly different approach than former Virgin technical director Nick Wirth, particularly in bringing back wind tunnel testing.
"The main thing was to get the integrity back into engineering – to look at everything we did and question it," he explained. "We've started wind tunnel testing now, which is not so much kicking out CFD but wanting to check the integrity of our changes.
"Our alliance with McLaren is also a good thing. It was obvious we had to do something different; that we weren't going to achieve the timescales required without doing that. McLaren will not be an instant [change in form] but it will maybe make us faster."
Symonds also stated his belief that F1 is facing a far brighter future than it did a decade ago, in part because of the new technology being brought in.
"F1 is heading in a better direction than say 10 years ago, when it was manufacturers or nothing," he added. "I think with cigarette advertising and then manufacturers, everyone got a bit arrogant.
"Now we have the RRA [Resource Restriction Agreement] which is a genuine attempt to cap costs. We also have KERS...I think when it came in I was typical of a lot of people in that I thought it was for someone else, but when you start to work with the systems you see the potential."