Is James Vowles the right man to turn Williams around?

James Vowles was announced as Williams' new team principal in mid-January, but is he the right person for the job?

-

When Jost Capito unexpectedly resigned as Williams team principal at the end of 2022, a whole slew of names was rumoured to be replacing the German.

Some thought Susie Wolff would take the reigns; others felt Jenson Button could make the jump from driver to team principal just seven years after ending his full-time Formula 1 career.

But in what came as a surprise to many, Williams appointed Mercedes‘ chief strategist James Vowles to the role taking on his first team management role.

With Williams needing an upturn in fortunes after a disappointing 2022 season, could Vowles turn the tide when so many have failed?

An integral part of a winning culture

For over a decade, Vowles has been an integral part of the Mercedes machine that has dominated F1, with his performances as chief strategist helping the team win seven constructors championships.

Many of Vowles‘ calls had helped Lewis Hamilton, and Valtteri Bottas take victory from even the most unlikely grid positions, particularly in the 2018 German Grand Prix when Hamilton won from 14th in tricky conditions.

Mercedes team at 2018 British Grand Prix – Paul Ripke

Vowles was also head of strategy at Brawn GP when they won the 2009 world championship, meaning that whatever team he’s at, he can turn them into winners overnight.

Although ex-Mercedes employees such as Paddy Lowe failed to turn Williams around, Vowles comes in with a fresh mindset and learning about his job race by race but, crucially, will have plenty of support.

Hand-picked by Dorilton

Since Claire Williams stood down as team principal in 2020 following Dorilton Capital’s purchase of the team, Williams has gone through three team principals in three years.

The team started 2021 with Simon Roberts at the helm, but after less than 12 months in the job, he left the team to be replaced by the highly rated Capito, the team’s CEO.

Capito’s short spell in charge saw points return to the team at the Hungaroring, with George Russell delivering the team’s first podium for three years with a controversial second place in Spa.

But the new regulations didn’t bring Williams closer to the midfield; on the contrary, they went backwards and at the end of last year, he stepped down as team principal and CEO.

Vowles won’t have it easy, but with this being his first team principal job and being handpicked by Dorilton, he could be given more time than his predecessors.

Granted, he will be under pressure to get the team off the bottom of the constructors’ championship table, but he’ll have a better driver lineup to work than Capito and Roberts did.

Plus, with Dorilton’s financial muscle, the team should have the resources to move back up the constructors’ table if Haas and Alfa Romeo go backward in 2023.

Potential factory deal may make life easier.

In an era of continued manufacturers’ interest, Williams is a team unique to F1 as it receives engines from Mercedes with no added factory support.

That could all change if Williams agree on a deal with Porsche, who have been keen to enter F1 since the new engine regulations started to take shape in the summer of 2021.

Porsche had hoped to enter F1 with reigning constructors champions Red Bull, only for the deal to fall apart in the eleventh hour, yet despite this hiccup, the company is still keen to enter the sport.

Although rumours of a deal have been quashed, a Porsche-Williams deal would undoubtedly give Vowles more chance to stamp his authority down on the team and start a new era at the team.

Ed Spencer
Ed Spencer
FIA accredited journalist
- Advertisment -

LATEST NEWS

Carlos Sainz during practice for the 2024 Spanish GP | Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

Carlos Sainz hits out at Lewis Hamilton over unpunished Spanish GP move

0
Carlos Sainz believes Lewis Hamilton should've been given a penalty for his overtaking move that forced the Ferrari driver...
Max Verstappen during 2024 Spanish GP Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Max Verstappen warning to Red Bull and demands improvement

0
Max Verstappen demands Red Bull improvement as another tough race saw the reigning world champion have to really work...
Start of the 2024 Spanish Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

LIVE F1 Spanish Grand Prix 2024 – Reaction as McLaren mistakes costly as Verstappen...

0
Welcome to Total-Motorsport’s F1 live coverage of the Spanish GP 2024. Held at the iconic Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, today’s race...
Lewis Hamilton during 2024 Spanish GP weekend | Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton brushes off furious Sainz after Spanish GP incident

0
Lewis Hamilton risked angering Carlos Sainz after claiming the Ferrari driver "left the door open" to overtake him during...
Lando Norris of McLaren after the 2024 Spanish Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Lando Norris: McLaren easily had the best car at Spanish GP

0
Lando Norris believes Spanish GP victory should have been his as McLaren had the best car in Barcelona, but...
Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner at the 2024 Monaco Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Christian Horner warns of Norris danger to Verstappen after Spanish GP battle

0
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner warned that Lando Norris and McLaren are their strongest competitors following a nail-biting...
McLaren team principal Andrea Stella at the 2023 Belgian GP | McLaren F1 team

McLaren chief pinpoints where 2024 Spanish GP was lost

0
McLaren's team boss they lost the 2024 Spanish GP by Turn 1 as a poor start saw Lando Norris...
Max Verstappen, Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton on the podium after the 2024 Spanish GP | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

F1 Standings after 2024 Spanish Grand Prix

0
Max Verstappen showcased his racing prowess at the 2024 Spanish Grand Prix, clinching his seventh victory of the Formula...
Lando Norris during the 2024 Spanish GP weekend | McLaren

F1 Fastest Lap: Spanish GP 2024

0
The Spanish GP Fastest Lap award is given to the driver who posts the quickest time over one timed...
Lando Norris during the 2024 Spanish GP weekend | McLaren

F1 2024 Spanish GP: Driver of the Day

0
Lando Norris was crowned 2024 Spanish GP Driver of the Day, but couldn't land the biggest prize of all...
- Advertisment -