Alpine in firing line of rival team boss over ‘remarkably meaningless’ strategy

Jamie Woodhouse
Alpine's Pierre Gasly on track at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Baku, April 2023.

Alpine's Pierre Gasly on track at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Baku, April 2023.

With much talk surrounding Alpine and their 100-race plan for F1 glory, Williams team boss James Vowles made the worrying reveal that such plans are “remarkably meaningless”.

Just 34 races into said 100-race plan at Alpine, the team looking to return to the lofty heights where there previous incarnation Renault once resided, surprise major changes were announced at the very top.

Team principal Otmar Szafnauer and sporting director Alan Permane were shown the door during the Belgian GP race weekend, just weeks after Laurent Rossi departed the Alpine CEO role. Pat Fry also announced his exit from the chief technical officer position at Alpine to take on that same task at Williams.

James Vowles shoots down effectiveness of Alpine plan

At Williams, Fry will link-up with team principal James Vowles, who is new to the role for F1 2023 after the Team Brackley stalwart left his position as Mercedes strategy chief to take on the Williams challenge.

There Vowles is also tasked with dragging a team up from arguably an even lower base than Alpine’s to restore Williams to winning ways.

But, on the journey to doing that, he sees zero value in setting these time-dependent limits.

“As I was interviewed to come here, I gave them a very clear view of how long it would take, and it’s a long time,” Vowles told

“That hasn’t changed. Same with Pat when he joined. Pat was very clear to me on ‘this will take a while’. I said: ‘I know, and the board know as well’.

“So, you have to present sensible things but when you’re presenting any more than three years out it’s just into the unknown. Definitely at five, 100 per cent at 10.

“Setting a target of saying we’re going to be third in five years is honestly not the right direction of travel because it’s a remarkably meaningless thing.

“What’s more important is showing that you’ve got structures and systems that lead you towards that in time.

“What you can present more is how I think we can get ourselves on track for that pathway and what are the key milestones that we’re looking for on that journey.” recommends

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The Williams boss would then proceed to reveal a selection of these milestones which he mentioned, the one for F1 2023 seemingly already ticked off as the development programme for the FW45 has proven efficient, Alex Albon driving the newly-upgraded challenger to a P7 finish in Canada, his best result with the team.

“One of this year was showing that we can demonstrably put performance on the car and use it effectively,” Vowles continued.

“One of them next year is, demonstrable across the winter, building on that package.

“We’ll be doing about 100 other things in the background. That’s how you lead towards moving up the grid.

“What I’ve been very careful about in that is making sure that whatever we’re demonstrating and promising is aligned with controlled reality.

“And when it starts to diverge away from it, bring it back to ‘this is where we are, and this is where we need to go forward’. And that happened from the outset.”

Williams are currently P7 in the F1 2023 Constructors’ Championship standings, tied on 11 points with Haas a position behind.

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