Vowles offers ‘stark contrast’ insight to mammoth Williams task
By Ian Parkes
Saturday 25th February, 2023 - 7:15pm
James Vowles has outlined the size of his task after taking over as Team Principal at Williams.
The former head of strategy at Mercedes has inherited an unenviable situation following the departures in early December of former team boss and CEO Jost Capito and Technical Director FX Demaison.
In his first public address since taking on his new role, Vowles also revealed Williams is operating without an aerodynamics chief. It appears David Wheater departed at the same time as Capito and Demaison.
It means Vowles will be running a Formula 1 team over the next few months without two key members of staff that are required to put a car on track and maintain its development.
In identifying his number one priority for Williams, Vowles said: “The primary thing is this – we don’t have the structure in place technically, obviously as a result of the changes (Demaison and Wheater exits) that were made.
“So number one is, let’s put in place a proper set of structures in terms of technical director etcetera, head of aero. That’s number one because clearly, an organisation needs those to move forward.
“Beyond there, it’s just understanding where Williams is.”
Outlining the fundamental difference he now faces compared to what he experienced with Mercedes, Vowles added: “I had the benefit of being in an organisation where if you required something, you asked for it, you were provided it.
“We had everything you could possibly imagine and it’s a stark contrast to where I am now, especially in a cost-cap environment where it’s difficult to request or even pay for what you need.”
Williams passion still burning – Vowles
From the high of finishing third in the F1 constructors’ championship in 2014 and 2015, Williams decline has been remarkably rapid.
Just three seasons later, in 2018, the team plummeted to last, hitting rock bottom in 2020 as it failed to score a point.
Last year was the fourth time in five seasons Williams finished last, yet Vowles believes in the people he has around him.
“There are a number of great people there on-site,” remarked the 43-year-old.
“They’ve obviously had a difficult, probably last 15 years or so, due to just circumstance, lack of investment, and otherwise.
“But you can still tell that the same level of passion that is shared, irrespective of the grid position you’re in, is there and available to you.
“And they’ll work, whatever it takes really, to move forwards.”
Whilst Vowles is naturally eager to complete his first task and bring in the major new hires that are required to help elevate the team up the grid, he knows he can bide his time to a certain degree to ensure the right people are brought in.
“There’s a strong organisation in place, and it’s acting without a TD as we speak today,” said Vowles.
“There’s a car on track, it’s built. They did an incredible job over the winter to achieve that.
“What’s clear is this is not about short term putting someone in place. This is about the long term and making sure we have the right person in place.
“We’re not going to rush a decision. The key is making sure we find the person that fits the organisation for the long term.”
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