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Racing Ahead Williams F1 Navigates Restructuring Hurdles

Racing Ahead: Williams F1 Navigates Restructuring Hurdles

03/04/2024

Under James Vowles, Williams F1 embarks on a critical restructuring, aiming for competitive resurgence.

Since James Vowles took over as head of Williams F1 at the beginning of 2023, the team has been undergoing a period of restructuring. Dave Robson, the track engineering director who has been with the team for many years, observes these changes.

He outlines the reasons behind Williams’ delays in certain areas, such as manufacturing a spare chassis. The structural changes within the team are challenging to implement while continuing daily sporting operations.

“There’s still a lot going on,” admits Robson. “It’s somewhat like trying to fix a flat tire on your bicycle while still riding. It’s very challenging to take time out of the schedule and allow everyone the chance to adopt new working methods.”

“So, it’s not easy, but it’s in progress. There’s a lot to do. That’s clear. A lot has been done. It’s really about enhancing the tools and software. Then, everyone must understand what this allows us to do and how to maximize these tools to advance the overall program.”

“The top teams are different from ours”

Robson is pleased to see that both Vowles and Pat Fry, who joined more recently, have decided to change the team’s policy to highlight and address problems. He believes that at the end of this restructuring, the team will be ready to take a significant step forward.

“I think we’ve known for a long time that the way we’ve been doing things, or have done things, isn’t always terribly efficient. But it relies on or requires a great deal of human glue to make everything work together. It will be fascinating to see where the other teams stand.”

“I’m sure that the top teams operate very differently from ours. I don’t know if that’s the case for everyone. To some extent, I think the big difference lies in the honesty of Pat and James about all this, perhaps more than in the problems themselves.”

“That said, the problems are there, they need to be addressed, and that’s what we were doing. But yes, we’ve known this for a long time. Yet, it’s always very difficult to invest in these processes when you’re struggling to invest in the car.”

“Obviously, that was a few years ago. Today, we know we have the resources to do so. And with James and Pat, we know what the state of the art looks like. So, I hope we can quickly move from where we are to where we need to be.”

A situation “very different” from 2019 or 2020

The engineer acknowledges that patience is required in a team turnaround process, but also distinguishes the progress made since Williams’ major period of difficulty: “It’s very different from what was happening four or five years ago.”

“It’s very exciting, and there’s no doubt that the performance will be there, that’s for sure. Obviously, we can’t control what others do, but we will definitely be in a better position.”

“The way we develop and manage the project will improve significantly. At the same time, it’s frustrating to realize that we can’t snap our fingers and have everything today or yesterday. So, we must continue doing what we do on the track and make the most of what we have.”

“And it’s great that this is improving. There’s no doubt that it will happen, but we want it to happen as quickly as possible. Obviously, we can’t do that, so we’re going to have to fight for a bit more time.”

Racing Ahead: Williams F1 Navigates Restructuring Hurdles. Racing Ahead: Williams F1 Navigates Restructuring Hurdles

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