Vowles – Wolff not my only pillar of support
By Ian Parkes
Wednesday 15th March, 2023 - 1:00am
James Vowles has conceded his new role as Williams team principal to “being slightly worse” than he expected.
There was an element of humour behind the comment as Vowles aired it but it is clear that after leaving Mercedes and stepping into the mess that is Williams there is also an element of truth.
It is why he is relying on not just close friends but former foes to aid him as he takes his first steps in F1 as a team boss.
Vowles spent 13 years with Mercedes, the final four as motorsport strategy director, building up a healthy partnership with team principal Toto Wolff.
Despite his switch to Williams, that cord has not been severed.
“There’s definitely dialogue,” confirmed Vowles. “He and I have had a working relationship together for…I was trying to think of how long it was for, 13, probably 12 years.
“As a result of that, you simply don’t let go of those relationships overnight.”
Wolff, though, is not the only person Vowles is turning to for advice, for as long as it is available.
“For what it’s worth, I have very good relationships up and down the paddock with most team principles.
“I have the same with Fred (Vasseur, Ferrari). I’ve known him for many, many years; Otmar (Szafnauer, Alpine) I’ve known for many years, the same with Andreas Seidl (Sauber) and Zak (Brown, McLaren).
“So whilst the relationship with Toto is incredibly strong as a result of working directly, and I’m asking questions of him, I’m also doing the same with many others up and down the paddock as well.
“So far, everyone has been supportive. That may change in time.”
Vowles addressing Williams instability
One of the key areas of concern for Vowles in his early assessment of Williams is the technical department where there has been a high turnover of people over the years.
For starters, Vowles is in need of a new technical director after FX Demaison departed at the end of last season alongside former team boss and CEO Jost Capito.
Vowles is still addressing what is required to bring the technical expertise within the team up to strength.
“It’s too early to make any assessments as to what the core reason is behind it,” said Vowles in answering why there has been ‘a revolving door’ in that area.
“What I can say is this – any organisation, irrespective of whether it’s a Formula 1 team or otherwise, cannot be a high-performing outfit, if you, a) take money away from it, and b) basically have such disruption across a number of years that you end up in a poor situation.
“And that’s where Williams is. It’s not for a lack of good people. It’s just simply a lack of stability.”
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