James Vowles’ first statement as he begins day one as Williams team boss

Jamie Woodhouse
Mercedes strategy director James Vowles listening to a conversation. Melbourne, April 2022.

James Vowles listening to a conversation. Melbourne, April 2022.

James Vowles is now officially at work as the new Williams team principal, a proud and exciting day for the ex-Mercedes man.

The off-season ahead of F1 2023 was far from quiet as the team bosses treated us to a fresh ‘silly season’, Williams one of those teams caught up in the chaos.

With Jost Capito announcing his exit from the team boss role, Williams did not rush to name a replacement as changes went on left, right, and centre at rival teams, but they did eventually make their pick.

And that was Vowles, the former Mercedes strategy chief who has now become Williams principal, marking the first time that he has led a Formula 1 team.

It is common for teams to impose gardening leave on a key staff member to delay them moving on to a rival, but Mercedes did not do this with Vowles, meaning that on February 20, he could officially mark his first day on the job as the Williams team principal.

Speaking from his desk at Grove, Vowles said: “You join me today on my first day in Williams Racing, and I really struggle to put into words just how much it means to me, how I excited I am, and just really all the emotions that are bubbling inside me at the moment.

“In just a few days we’ll be in Bahrain testing in earnest and it’s for us an opportunity to really understand where the car is, and what we need to do from that baseline to move forwards.

“I had the pleasure of meeting already a huge number within this organisation and I frankly can’t wait to meet the remainder over the next few days.”

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There had been some suggestions that Vowles’ move to Williams, a Mercedes customer team, signalled a strengthening of ties between the two outfits, but Williams have made it clear that the “Haas model” is of no interest to them.

Vowles faces a huge challenge to lift the once mighty Williams team back up the pecking order in Formula 1, having propped up the Constructors’ Championship in four of the last five seasons.