In the opening 11 Grands Prix Williams have scored three podiums - all through Valtteri Bottas - and had occupied third in the constructors’ standings before Fernando Alonso’s podium in Hungary gave Ferrari a seven-point advantage.
That resurgence led to some - including McLaren’s racing director Eric Boullier in June - suggesting that Williams’ form was track-dependent, but Symonds believes the team have a genuine claim to being the third best on this year’s grid, and expects success to continue over the final eight races.
“There is an element of it - always has been, always will be,” Symonds told Formula1.com when asked about Boullier’s view that track layout was a major factor in Williams’ results. “Our objective is to design a car that works equally well on all 19 circuits, but none of us achieve that, not even Mercedes.
“But I do think that is a bit of wishful thinking from Eric as well. Don’t get me wrong, I do recognise the differences for us at places like Austria, but I still believe we have the third quickest car, and if we use it and develop it properly we will be third quickest at most circuits.
“It is very close this year - no one will say anything other than Mercedes is the best car, in my opinion Red Bull are second, and then you have Ferrari, Force India, Williams and McLaren. That is quite a tight bunch, (but) arguably we have the third-best car at the moment.”
Symonds warned, however, that Williams’ fortunes will not just hang on the FW36’s underlying pace, but also the team’s efficiency and ability to avoid mistakes.
“I don’t believe up until Austria that we performed or achieved what we should have, for all sorts of reasons,” he said. “What makes it difficult this year is that 43 points are taken by Mercedes at pretty much every weekend, which means the rest of us are fighting for a lot less.
“The difference between finishing third and sixth overall might be quite small. If we are the third-best team, we ought to finish third in the championship - but in 2005 [when Symonds was executive director of engineering at Renault] we won the championship with Fernando Alonso despite McLaren having the better car. We were a better team and we won by our racing.”