Vowles faces tougher task than expected at Williams Formula 1. According to James Vowles, it may take years, not months, to get the Williams team back to the front of the grid in Formula One.
James Vowles – who left the Mercedes team where he was head of strategy for many years – took over at Williams on February 20 just before the start of Formula One’s winter test in Bahrain.
Vowles had expected a tough task in getting the Grove-based team back to the front of the grid, but the Briton admitted that he may have underestimated the situation at Williams and expects it to take longer than expected to get the job done.
“The situation is worse…”
“The situation is pretty much what I expected, but it’s maybe slightly worse. The path [back to the front] is not in months, it’s in years,” said James Vowles, quoted by the BBC.
“Any organisation – whether it’s a Formula One team or anything else – can’t be a successful team if you take money away from it, and fundamentally that kind of disruption over a number of years gets you into a bad situation.”
“That’s where Williams is. It’s not for lack of good people, but it’s simply a lack of stability.”
Brain drain at Williams
Over the winter, several key figures at Williams left, instigating a ‘brain drain’ for the team – including former manager Jost Capito, whom Vowles replaces, as well as François-Xavier Demaison, who was serving as technical director at Grove.
Against this backdrop, James Vowles’ number one priority is to create a new technical team at Williams, with the 2023 season having already started last weekend with the Bahrain Grand Prix.
“The team is definitely being stretched at the moment to make sure we can fill those gaps as best we can,” added Vowles.
“The first thing is to get the right set of structures in place, including a technical director and aero manager. It’s clear that an organisation needs that to move forward.”
Long term project
With the right people in place, Vowles will then look at the long-term vision for Williams and his strategy is clear:
“If you have a choice between making a decision that makes us better next week, or a decision that can make us significantly better in six months, 12 months or 24 months, then you go for the latter of those two decisions.”
“A realistic step for this team is, first and foremost, to make sure that every year we move forward slightly and don’t stay stationary. That has to be the number one goal.”
“Secondly, we have to set a reasonable period of time in the future – and these are years – where we start to actually be sixth, fifth, fourth.”
“From there, the sport will probably have to observe some level of policy change to allow teams to be in the top three.”
After the first race of the 2023 season, the Williams team sits seventh in the constructors’ world championship with a point scored by Alex Albon at the Bahrain Grand Prix.