SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium -- Williams' "painful" weekend leading up to the Belgian Grand Prix is proof the team is failing to match its midfield rivals' rate of development, according to Felipe Massa.
Massa and teammate Lance Stroll were eliminated from Q1 on Saturday afternoon on a circuit which should a team with a Mercedes power unit. Williams' weekend has been hampered by Massa crashing out in FP1, forcing a full-scale chassis change on Friday afternoon, but the team has never shown competitive pace.
Williams started the year on a par with Force India, which has solidified itself as best of the rest behind the lead trio, and Massa thinks a comparison to March shows how much the team has failed with recent upgrades.
"It's definitely a tough weekend starting with my crash yesterday," Massa said. "The second thing, which is the most important thing, is the car is not competitive enough. So for sure I didn't run [on Friday] but I think we learned in FP3 and qualifying, the lap time I did was a good lap, so was happy with my lap time. But just not happy with the performance.
"We are just too slow compared to the other cars. It shows that we are not developing the car in the right way compared to other teams. This is clear. I think if you see how we started the season compared to where we are now, it's clear that the others are going forward and we are not doing any improvement. It is quite painful, to be honest. So disappointing because of that."
Williams bolstered its technical operation by signing Paddy Lowe from Mercedes at the start of the season, but he would have had no input into the 2017 car itself.
When asked if Williams' struggles are purely down to development steps not being good enough or something being fundamentally wrong with the concept of the team's car, he said: "I think so, because if something is wrong already we would know what exactly is wrong. But we don't know. So I would say maybe we didn't develop the car in the right way compared to other teams.
"It's true that we are not competitive with Red Bull or Ferrari or Mercedes, but we were competitive with the others. With the others the difference is not big but the difference was already not big at the start of the season, so if you the others are improving or not stopping you can lose maybe not one position, you can lose maybe three or four positions. So for sure it shows that the developing of the car is not in the direction it needs to be.