James Vowles warns against ‘long-term massive deficit’ created by ‘fictitious’ number

Michelle Foster
Logan Sargeant and Alex Albon running side by side. Britain July 2023

Logan Sargeant and Alex Albon running side by side with Williams British flag livery. Britain July 2023

New Williams team boss James Vowles says he won’t dish out “fictitious” numbers when he tries to persuade top talent to join Williams.

Bottom of the log in four of the last five seasons, it’s been hard-going for the former World Champions who have suffered from a lack of investment in the Formula 1 team.

That has left them lagging behind their rivals with new team boss Vowles tasked with bringing their infrastructure into the 21st century with the former Mercedes head of strategy revealing some things haven’t been updated in two decades.

James Vowles won’t dish out ‘fictitious’ numbers

He’s also been tasked with bringing top talent over to Williams, Vowles announcing the signing of veteran Formula 1 engineer Pat Fry on the eve of the summer break with the former Alpine man joining Williams as their new chief technical officer.

But persuading top drivers over is a more difficult task as while Williams have Alex Albon on the payroll, the driver having joined the team before Vowles’ arrived, his new teammate Logan Sargeant hasn’t hit his stride with the rookie yet to score a single point.

Vowles was asked about the difficulty in convincing drivers of Williams’ long-term vision.

“Anything you do that lends them to realise that the numbers are fictitious will give you a short-term gain for a long-term massive deficit, including a loss of a driver,” he told the media including PlanetF1.com:

“What I’ve done with both Pat and Alex as well, is show them why we will be moving forward on the long-term vision.

“The best thing you can do is ask Alex but you’ll find he’s very comfortable with where he is at the moment because he can see we’ve delivered across the last six months and what the pathway is across the next few years as well.

“If you do anything else to them, all you do is at one point they’ll be disrupted with ‘This isn’t the reality of what you promised them’.

“So, this is why the whole way through I’ve been focusing on the long-term and a truthful analysis of the long-term, but allowing people to buy into that vision.”

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‘I think five years is not a bad period of time’

This season Williams are seventh on the log with Albon having scored all 11 of their points with his best result being a P7 at the Canadian Grand Prix.

“I think five years is not a bad period of time to be talking about,” Vowles said of a timeframe, but he stopped short of setting a definitive target such as Audi, who’ve said they want to be at the front within three years of its arrival on the grid.

“I think if you put yourself in the mindset of the board, we’re asking them to write big cheques, same with Audi who are writing very big cheques at the moment, and they need to have a financial case as to why it makes sense for them to do that,” he added.

“And so often the financial case is one that’s self-satisfying, which is if you’re third for example you get the payback on it and it’s worthwhile.

“What I’ve done is different. I set the expectations of where we are, where we need to move forward, how much money is, what we need, and the regulation change to support us. And if things work as I absolutely expect, we could be up here and if they don’t, we could be down there.

“But that management of the board has been a sensible and honest approach and so far as I think delivered well, but we’re six months into this journey so you have to ask me again in about two years time.”

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