James Vowles lauded for helping ‘re-energise’ Williams as new team principal

Henry Valantine
James Vowles, Williams team principal. Bahrain March 2023.

Williams team principal James Vowles stands on the grid ahead of the race. Bahrain March 2023.

James Vowles has been praised for how he has taken to life as Williams’ new team principal, with head of vehicle performance Dave Robson saying his bringing of title-winning experience from Mercedes has “re-energised everybody” within the team.

The sudden departure of Jost Capito after last season ended left Williams searching for a new team boss, but former Mercedes chief strategist Vowles was given the nod to take on his first team principal’s role, having been a long-time staff member at Brackley through nine Constructors’ title wins with the Silver Arrows and Brawn.

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

It is something of a change of surroundings for Vowles in a competitive sense, having competed for titles for the majority of the last 15 years before moving to Williams, which fell back to the bottom of the Constructors’ standings last year.

But with Vowles’ arrival and Williams’ positive performance in pre-season testing, Robson believes that combination has only served to benefit the staff at Grove as they head into the new season.

“I think over the last year or two some good work was done, I don’t think there’s much doubt about that – we started to understand the way we needed to go,” Robson told media including PlanetF1.com in Bahrain.

“But I think James coming in with his recent experience of what the best looks like, I think does make a difference. And on that, I think that has re-energised everybody.

“That coupled with the fact that the car ran so well at the test, which obviously that was based on things put in place months ago.

“But I think those two things together, have had a palpable effect on the team.”

Alex Albon out-performed early expectations at Williams to take a point during the Bahrain Grand Prix, while team-mate and debutant Logan Sargeant made up multiple places on the first lap and raced well in an encouraging opening weekend for the team.

And even though Vowles is still getting his feet under the table after taking on the reins at Williams, Robson added that the knowledge he brings with him about the finer details of how the cars work has helped the engineering team go about their work effectively in the early part of this season.

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“He’s very good at speaking to the race team, and I think he it’s interesting for us because he obviously comes with quite a lot of technical understanding,” he explained.

“He’s quite involved, clearly was quite involved in the technical side of things up the road [at Mercedes] and although he can’t just come in and tell us everything that they do and all of their information, I think you can discuss and debate things on quite a technical level with him and get some useful guidance.

“So I think that’s a bit different and I think it’s probably helped the mood in engineering a little bit, that he can come in and the understands the detail of the engineering at that level.”