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Williams F1 Team Principal Vowles Stresses Work Ahead Despite Promising Pre-Season



Williams F1 Team Principal Vowles

During James Vowles’ initial appearance in the media as the team principal of the Williams Formula 1 team, it was emphasized that the team still has a considerable amount of work to accomplish, including the task of filling two crucial technical roles. This reminder was particularly timely, given that the team seemed to have made a promising beginning during pre-season testing.

During the day two team principals’ press conference in Bahrain, James Vowles, the former strategy chief at Mercedes and the current team principal at Williams, provided a straightforward and honest assessment of the team’s situation without any attempt to gloss over the issues. He didn’t provide any vague or meaningless answers, acknowledging the challenges that lie ahead for the team.

James Vowles’ address during the team principals’ press conference in Bahrain also inadvertently revealed that David Wheater, Williams’ head of aero, had left the team. This information is consistent with The Race’s understanding, as Wheater reportedly departed at the same time as former team principal Jost Capito and technical director Francois-Xavier Demaison in December.

Despite Vowles’ remarks not being a harsh critique of his new team, he was forthright about Williams’ current status and emphasized that the team is willing to do whatever it takes to progress. This straightforward assessment is a reminder that Williams’ improvement is a long-term project that won’t happen overnight.

Overall, Vowles’ comments struck the right balance of being a “reality check” for Williams and its owner Dorilton, who need to have a shared understanding of the challenges ahead if they are to achieve a sustained revival of the team.

These remarks from James Vowles come in light of the fact that Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant, the drivers for Williams, have completed a combined 221 laps during the first half of the three-day testing period in Bahrain. Both drivers have consistently exceeded 70 laps per session, and the FW45 has finished in the top three in both morning sessions. However, Vowles provided a reality check by noting that Albon and Sargeant set their times with a different tire offset than the other teams, using the softer C4 and softest C5 compounds, respectively.

When asked about his initial impressions of the Williams team, Vowles acknowledged that there are many talented individuals on-site.


James Vowles acknowledged that Williams has faced difficulties in the past 15 years, with limited investment and other circumstances, but stressed that the team’s passion remains strong, regardless of their position on the grid. He also noted that the team is committed to doing whatever it takes to make progress.

One of the main areas in which Williams needs to improve is aerodynamic design, which has been a persistent weakness for the team. With the engine freeze in place and tight margins among F1’s engine manufacturers, the technical team’s ability to address this challenge will be crucial to the car’s performance.

Vowles was direct in his assessment of the situation, stating that Williams currently lacks the necessary technical structure due to the departures of Capito, Demaison, and Wheater. He emphasized the need to address this issue within the technical team.

According to Vowles, the primary focus for Williams at the moment is to establish a proper structure in terms of technical leadership, specifically a technical director and head of aero. These are necessary to build a strong foundation for the team to move forward.

Additionally, Vowles highlighted the importance of understanding where Williams currently stands. Having previously worked in an organization with ample resources and support, he acknowledged that the current situation is a significant contrast. The cost cap in F1 makes it difficult to acquire the necessary resources and equipment, and requesting or paying for these items can be challenging.

Overall, Vowles believes that a strong technical leadership structure, combined with a clear understanding of Williams’ position, will be critical to the team’s success in the long term.

Vowles’ comments suggest that he does not anticipate Williams’ improvement to be an easy or immediate process. This sentiment is in line with the views expressed by Williams’ head of vehicle performance, Dave Robson, at the team’s livery launch earlier this month.


During a recent press conference, Vowles was asked about his expectations for the 2023 F1 season and whether he anticipates any significant changes in the competitive order. He replied that year-on-year changes in the regulations are unlikely to result in a major shake-up in the team rankings. Vowles added that he believes the top three teams – currently Red Bull, Mercedes, and Ferrari – are likely to remain in those positions.

Vowles explained that even small changes in certain factors, such as the time of day or the power unit modes, can result in significant differences in lap times. These variables can add up quickly and make it difficult to predict where Williams may be positioned in the competitive order.

However, Vowles did not disclose whether Williams has been impacted by these variables, nor was he asked to provide further details on this matter during the press conference.

While Vowles was cautious in his assessment of Williams’ progress, he did offer a hint of positivity regarding the team’s performance relative to the previous year. He noted that the wind conditions in Bahrain were making it difficult for drivers to find a good balance, and that this was likely to be a challenge for many teams, not just Williams.

Vowles also mentioned that there has been some positive feedback within the team regarding the FW45’s performance so far, but cautioned that it is still too early in the testing process to draw any definitive conclusions. Overall, Vowles’ remarks suggest that while there may be some reasons for encouragement, there is still a significant amount of work to be done before Williams can become a competitive force in F1 once again.

Vowles’ remarks were guarded and realistic, but they did not call for immediate upheaval or criticize the current resources available to Williams. Instead, his message was clear: the team is committed to rebuilding a once-great team and returning to a competitive position.

Vowles emphasized the need to establish the right foundations to achieve this goal, including finding the right technical leadership. He acknowledged that there is a strong organization in place at Williams, even without a technical director, and commended the team’s work in building a new car for the season.


Regarding the process of finding a new technical director, Vowles stressed that the team is focused on the long-term and finding the right fit for the organization. He acknowledged that this may take some time, but the team is committed to making the right decision. Overall, Vowles’ comments suggest that Williams is taking a measured and strategic approach to rebuilding the team for long-term success.

Williams F1 Team Principal Williams F1 Team Principal Williams F1 Team Principal Williams F1 Team Principal