James Vowles highlights metric where there is ‘nobody better’ than Toto Wolff

Henry Valantine
James Vowles with Toto Wolff in Las Vegas.

James Vowles left a long-held role at Mercedes to take up his first team principal role with Williams in early 2023.

James Vowles believes the way Toto Wolff looks at bigger-picture elements of Formula 1 are better than anyone else on the grid.

This stretches from sponsorship to how the sport is growing as a whole, with Vowles having spent a long time as part of Wolff’s senior management team at Mercedes.

Now in his first role as team principal at Williams, Vowles is taking lessons from those he has worked under in the past as well as stamping his own authority on his current team.

Toto Wolff ‘incredibly good’ at knowing how to ’empower individuals’

Vowles worked at the Brackley-based team in its guise as BAR, Honda and Brawn before it became Mercedes, and he was discussing how he has taken lessons from the likes of Dave Richards and Ross Brawn in how to manage a larger team around him.

Having spent nine years working under Wolff before being able to take on the top job at Williams in time for 2023, Vowles revealed just what it is that makes his former boss so good at what he does.

“Toto’s strength is he is incredibly good at understanding the financials behind the organisation and how to structure it,” Vowles explained to Motorsport Week.

“Sponsorship, growth of the organisation and growth of the sport even, I really don’t think there’s anyone better than him doing that. And there’s elements of that I was fortunate enough to learn from him and take onboard.

“He’s also fit in very well with the culture that was already in place before he joined Mercedes, which is one that was grown by the senior management team myself, including about failure and other aspects.

“Just learning from him about how you empower individuals was the strength of Toto.”

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Wolff has spoken himself about the self-critical elements of how he goes about his work, believing that he looks to get the best from himself and others by looking inwards first.

His now-famous ‘no-blame’ culture at Mercedes is a big part of that, as he explained to select media including PlanetF1.com in Abu Dhabi.

“We blame the problem and not the person,” he explained. “We are a safe environment, nobody got fired because of nonperformance. We always find solutions.

“If a department doesn’t perform, it’s my fault, because then I haven’t provided the right framework or wasn’t part of hiring the right people.

“It makes no sense to blame someone who’s not doing good enough, because everybody’s trying their best – at least, this is the mindset we have in the organisation.

“So, no-blame culture, we stuck to it, which I’m very proud of.”

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