Williams Formula 1 technical chief Paddy Lowe says there is no "black and white" decision on when to shift resources to its 2018 car despite the team's desire to move back up the order next year.

Williams slipped from third to fifth in the constructors' championship last year, and currently has less than half the points of fourth-placed Force India in the 2017 standings, making any improvement at the end of the season difficult to foresee.

Despite appearing to be nearing a time when a shift to 2018's car may be expected, Lowe stressed that it would be a gradual process, with some improvements for this year's FW40 being able to help the next model.

"There's never a black and white answer to that. It's always a bit of a merge really," Lowe said when asked about shifting focus.

"You gradually put more and more focus onto the following year and really depends on the projects. Some projects, they carry over whether specifically or in terms of knowledge so you keep going with those because they're going to work for you in the following year.

"Other things that are, would only really help you would only really help you in that used car, you may reach a point where you say you're not going to invest the effort in those within the current season.

"Often these decisions are decided on a case by case basis rather than having some sort of overall black and white decision."

Williams' form has fluctuated for much of the season, ranging from a podium finish in Baku to a double Q1 elimination just one race later in Austria.

Lowe was asked if the team would consider changing its car philosophy for future years, but he said there was no need to completely overhaul Williams' plans.

"There's no fixed philosophy either way. We're not certainly never happy with status quo if we can see a better way of doing things so everything's up for grabs basically," Lowe said.

"But at the same time you don't tear things up if they don't need to be. We will take all our opportunities in terms of fundamental and detailed designs next year."

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