James Vowles reveals when positive impact of key Williams recruit will be felt

Thomas Maher
Williams' James Vowles on the pitwall at the Qatar Grand Prix.

Williams' James Vowles on the pitwall at the Qatar Grand Prix.

Williams’ boss James Vowles says he’s expecting his new signing Pat Fry to make a big impact on the team – but not immediately.

The Grove-based squad has signed up former Alpine chief technical officer Pat Fry, with the British engineer moving to become Williams’ new technical officer following the departure of F.X. Demaison early this year.

New Williams team boss James Vowles elected against rushing into a new signing to replace Demaison and convinced Fry to switch allegiances before the announcement was made at the Belgian Grand Prix.

James Vowles ‘counting down the days’ until Pat Fry’s arrival

With Fry now serving a gardening leave period until he starts work with Williams on November 1st, Vowles said he’s eager to see what Fry can do once he takes up the helm at his new post.

“Definitely counting down the days,” Vowles told the official F1 website during the Qatar GP weekend.

“As much as I have tried my best, I need someone who is far better than me in that role.

“We’ve brought together a really good group of individuals at Williams, and we are working together. In part, I have sadness because I have to start letting go of that side of things. With 2024 though, the dye is pretty much set in the direction of travel.

“This chassis will already, by the time he comes through the door, be most of the way produced. It has to be. That’s what the timelines are for these things, which means you define some of the big elements to things.

“The aero package again will be most of the way through development, even though it’s going to be for next year.

“But the impact – and I’ve said it all along – I’m not interested in short term, I’m interested in the long term. So, he will already, in the 2024 season, have a positive effect but that real effect will kick in in ’25, ’26, [2027].”

PlanetF1.com recommends

F1 team principals: How long has each team boss been in charge?

F1 2024 driver line-up: Who is confirmed for next season’s grid?

James Vowles ‘feeling at home’ with Williams

Having settled into his first team leadership role after departing Mercedes over the winter, where he had been strategy director, Vowles is approaching the end of his first season in the vastly different job.

Asked about his own learning curve over the past 10 months since taking up his role at Grove, he said: “You don’t realise it until questions like this come up, where you think it’s nearly a year.

“Good. I would say. It’s a role that obviously I had a lot to learn, and I still have a lot to learn, and I would be disappointed if you asked me a question and I say I haven’t learned something new this week.

“But I think it doesn’t take much looking from the outside to realise we are in a good direction of travel. The team has very much embraced me, I feel at home there. I felt at home there after just a few months.

“Which is, to name the extraordinary, to go into a completely new environment after 20 years elsewhere, but yet it feels like home, is a strong indication of how Williams is as an organisation.

“What I am more excited by, and I keep going to the long term, but it’s not the last nine months, I am really excited by a couple of years from now when it properly kicks into gear.”

Read Next: FIA ‘all ears’ on ‘democratic’ way to halt Max Verstappen and Red Bull dominance