According to Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernley, Williams' achievements over the past two F1 seasons should be considered as a benchmark for his team.
Considering how Williams returned to form spectacularly after their disastrous 2013 season, it's not hard to understand why Fernley feels the way he feels. Williams finished third in the constructors standings in 2014 and 15, while securing 13 podium finishes.
While Fernley believes Force India should strive to emulate Williams' success, he also thinks that that type of success, given the current F1 landscape, cannot be exceeded.
"The best that we can achieve, in reality, is what Williams are doing, and that should be our goal," explains Fernley. "I think Williams are the benchmark of an independent team's performance, with them challenging for podiums. The chances are, unless something desperately goes wrong elsewhere, they're not going to win a race, and they're certainly not going to win a championship."
With Mercedes' factory team at the head of the pack and Ferrari clearly no.2 after last season, Williams is indeed the tip of the spear in terms of what an independent team can achieve - which is a team that doesn't develop their own power unit.
"Clearly aero-wise Williams are doing a slightly better job, which shows we can do more," added Fernley. "If you look at the performance graphs over the second half of last season, we were chipping away at that a little bit. We're obviously playing catch-up, which is a relatively slow process. As we're doing that, they're still moving on, so there's work to do."
Seen as how it's extremely unlikely for a customer team to out-perform a works team in today's Formula 1 and the way it's structured, Force India has no choice but to look at Williams and try to achieve similar results - since better results are obviously out of the question. Of course, Red Bull and obviously Ferrari also have a say in the "who's crossing the line right after the Mercedes-AMG cars" debate.
Story references: autosport