James Vowles reiterates the Williams name will not disappear from Formula 1

Several teams have changed name in F1 over the last decade but Williams will keep theirs

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James Vowles has reassured fans the Williams name will not be removed by the team’s owners Dorilton Capital following RB and Sauber‘s rebrands over the winter of 2024.

At the conclusion of the 2023 season, AlphaTauri and Alfa Romeo underwent name changes, with AlphaTauri changing its name to Visa Cash App RB F1 team. Alfa Romeo was renamed to Sauber.

The changes mean only three teams on the F1 grid, Ferrari, McLaren, and Williams, retain their original names from when they first entered the sport.

“I think it’s one of the biggest brands, certainly in motorsports and certainly in the UK,” explained Vowles to select media outlets, including Total-Motorsport.com. “I also have no desire whatsoever to change it, nor does Dorilton, for that matter, because it means a tremendous amount to me.

Frank and his legacy remain in us, and you’ll see it in the livery now as well if you look back, you’ll see his arrow subtly embedded in there you’ll see that I really wanted his mark on the car and wanted to reflect that I’m not here to replace him I’m here to carry on the legacy that is Williams.

“It’s huge heritage. If you come to the experience centre and walk around the cars from 77 [onwards], there are nearly 50 years’ worth of cars, of which there are many, many champions there, it will be foolish to get rid of that because why would you?

“It still creates the brand that is there today and is one of our strengths against all others. I still today don’t know AlphaTauri‘s new name, and I was in an F1 commission [meeting], and they mentioned it.

“But then that doesn’t have a legacy that doesn’t hold weight in my mind. You create legacy through championships, through growth, through having a tremendous amount of the world believing in you and following you. Williams means tremendous amounts to me, it’s the first team I really followed, and it’s what I want to retain because it’s a strength, not a weakness.”

Wants a car which is competitive on all circuits

Throughout 2023, Williams tended to struggle on circuits which didn’t have long straights as Suzuka and Monaco, causing the team’s drivers, Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant, to miss out on points.

In contrast, at circuits favouring straight-line speed, such as Monza and Montreal. Albon was able to squeeze the maximum from the Williams including a heroic seventh finish in Canada after keeping several cars behind in the closing stages. At Monza, on a track on which Williams had historically performed well at, Albon qualified sixth ahead of both McLarens before going on to finish seventh behind Lewis Hamilton

An exception to the trend came at Zandvoort, where on a twisty circuit, Albon once again shined, qualifying fourth and finishing eighth in wet conditions.

“So first and foremost, I want a car that performs on all tracks and not just some tracks,” Vowles added. “Yeah, we were a pain in the neck to get past last year, but that doesn’t make a strength of the car, that’s just using a weakness to overcome strength, and yep, we were great at Monza and a few other tracks, but I want us to be strong everywhere. 

“So the first change was really focusing on an aerodynamic package and a platform. The way I did that is it’s never the work of one individual. My job was to bring together the right people in the room and ensure that we all know my shoulders are there too the weight of the performance of the car rests on our shoulders, not any one person. It’s not aerodynamic, it’s not how the suspension is designed, it’s not how we operate at the track, it’s all of us.

Max Verstappen leads McLaren’s Lando Norris, Mercedes’ George Russell, Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso and the Williams of Alex Albon at the 2023 Dutch GP | | Peter Fox/Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

“That created some really, really interesting conversations about direction and travel. The second is that we had difficult car behaviour last year, and it wasn’t most teams on the grid suffering it was very much ours suffering at near enough all of the tracks. Zandvoort really showed you what this car can do if a lot of that spiteful behaviour or that difficult behaviour disappears, and it did at Zandvoort.

“So the base package isn’t bad. It’s not that we have a poor amounts of downforce. It’s just marred by a number of other things. And a lot of the focus we’ve put on is making sure that we understand what those are, put signs to it, understand what’s moving it and what’s not.

“We use simulation technology to understand how to replicate it, once replicated, make significant changes and they are significant to how we developed the car, aerodynamically in order to overcome that and it’s not just aerodynamics it’s probably three or four areas coming into it.

“I made it clear to the organisation that the weight of failure will rest on my shoulders. I don’t want anyone to be restrained by a fear of failure. I don’t want anyone to be restrained by a fear of pushing outside the boundaries of what we’re comfortable with.

“Now’s the time, and you have my support to break what you know and start again and go back to fundamentals and get them right all too often. It’s too easy to do something you feel comfortable with, and therefore, you only move the car, a small percent forwards very difficult to push the boundaries of what you’re doing and break away from the mould that you’ve known for five to 10 years.

“And yet, if we don’t, I can promise now nine other teams will, and that’s why you fall backwards. So moving forwards is not being satisfied with being eighth or seventh. I will only be satisfied when we’re fighting for World Championships and winning World Championships.”

Ed Spencer
Ed Spencer
FIA accredited journalist
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