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Williams was already looking ahead to the 2018 season after a difficult start to the current season as early as September, the team’s chief technical officer Paddy Lowe has admitted.

The team suffered in front of its rivals in the early part of the season, having previously scaled third position in 2014 and 2015.

Currently, though, the team is locked in a battle for fifth place against Toro Rosso, Renault and Haas.

Lowe also spoke about the need for ‘significant changes‘ to the design philosophy of the team as the look to get stronger in the coming seasons.

“We’ve got into a mode, going back a month or more, that we’re only bringing to the car things that are relevant to next year,” the Brit told Autosport.

“Mostly we what we’re doing now is directed at 2018, so I don’t think we’re going to see any substantial shift from that. We’ve still got a few things coming to races ahead of us, but not substantial stuff.

“All the upgrades we’ve brought since September have had that characteristic, but I don’t think that balance is very different to how it would be normally as a function of the design we intend for next year.”

Williams driver Felipe Massa claimed that some parts on the car from the beginning of the year were still there towards the end of the European leg of the season.

The Brazilian added, “The first year (was OK), then all of the other years it was the same as now – no improvement through the year, the way we expected to have.

“This year we started in a good way, and we didn’t improve like other teams. Last year we didn’t understand anything – we just couldn’t improve the car through the year like other teams were doing. 2015 was the same.

“This year the same. We had many bits, but they didn’t work. The team had to understand why it was not working, change some stuff.

“We still have the same parts, but now things are working much better. From Barcelona to maybe the race before Monza we had a car that was maybe the same as the beginning of the season.

“Now we are catching the other teams, but it’s too late.”

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