Williams Chief Technical Officer Paddy Lowe has opened up about the new challenges he's faced returning to the team where he began his Formula 1 engineering career and how he rates the progress since taking charge at the start of this season.

Lowe left triple F1 world champions Mercedes last January to return to Williams this year as technical head and a shareholder of the team. Lowe joined the British team back in 1987 as Joint Head of Electronics and masterminded the team’s active suspension used to help Nigel Mansell to the 1992 F1 world title.

After moving to McLaren in 1993 Lowe worked through the senior ranks at the Woking-based team, before switching to Mercedes with Lewis Hamilton in 2013, Lowe took up the challenge of reigniting Williams at the start of 2017 having seen the team slip down the pecking order into fifth place in the F1 teams’ standings.

While accepting it took some adapting to alter his mindset from title-contenders to midfield fighters, Lowe says he’s relished the challenge as he’s made technical changes to fuel its charge to become F1 winners again. Pastor Maldonado was the last Williams race winner back at the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix.

“It has been a good year with lots of interesting challenges getting familiar with the team and the environment,” Lowe said. “Some of the difficulties faced by the mid-ranking teams compared to the leading teams being one of them.

“It is a new experience for me personally to be in a team that where it frankly isn’t realistic to expect a win. We have that ambition to move forward and become winners, that is why we are here.

“I have been fortunate enough throughout my career to be in teams that were expected to win at every moment. That may not have been that easy in the creative zone under that pressure but it is a different contest for me to understand and be able to make the right plans to move forward in the current climate of Formula 1.”

While Lowe’s changes have remained largely under the surface at Williams, focusing on installing a new “direction” for its engineering developments, the technical chief accepts clear steps of improvement will only appear when it has an F1 car to produce results on the track.

“Tweaking the team here and there to get us facing in the direction I think we need to go,” he said. “Getting around what car we need to build for next year which is an exciting project to run which will motivate us over the next few months to see what we can do and deliver over the next few months.

“I think it is a good team, you see the example of the pit stops where we have now set the standard at many races this year, which gives you a good insight into how we operate at the track. The engineering and technicians side is also a very strong team.

“At the heart of it we need a quicker car which is the thing which puts you in a different place by having the material to take to the track and to turn into points.”