Williams Team Principal James Vowles, revealed he is working on the long term to rebuild a team, that has been torn apart, on proper stable foundations.
Five races into the 2023 Formula 1 season, Williams are sitting last in the Constructors’ Standings with a solitary point courtesy of Alex Albon’s tenth-place-finish in Bahrain.
Sadly the team, who remained a privateer until 2020 when Dorilton Capital bought it from the Williams family, is used to being in such a low position for years now, and after some initial changes with the new owners, nothing has changed with the state of affairs on track.
Vowles, who took over at the start of the season from previous boss Jost Capito, insisted earlier that the team’s Championship position doesn’t reflect its actual performance, that things aren’t as bad as they seem.
Speaking more recently to Formula 1’s Official Website, he revealed that the plan was to rebuild the team over the course of the coming years, thinking strictly long term.
“Williams has been torn apart through different mechanisms,” Vowles revealed, “one because it was a place where you could find incredible people so the top teams would take them.
Team foundations are not stable for now
“We are having to regrow what we had. The foundations aren’t proper stable foundations. We have got to dig deep, put proper systems in place to build on.
“We won’t sacrifice anything on long term to make small gain for this year. Everything we are doing will still bring goodness to this year, but making sure there are proper systems next year, in ’25 and in ’26 as well [is the priority].
“This business is unique in that every two weeks, you know whether you’re good enough or not. Most businesses don’t have that. That’s a blessing but also a curse, because every two weeks, you have to take people’s focus from the upcoming race and put it on ’24 [and beyond],” he explained.
One of the tasks on top of Vowles’ to-do-list is to hire a new technical head, the former being Francois-Xavier Demaison, who joined the team and left it along with Capito. However, he insists, the process of recruiting a tech boss will be a delicate one as he needs to choose a person who fits within the Williams environment.
He said: “There are some great people up and down the paddock, but it’s finding the right fit for the organisation we have, the right fit for someone who wants to be in here growing it for not just one or two years but multiple years. Someone who has experience and knowledge, but the right cultural aspects that match my own, match where I want the organisation to be.
“It’s going well, I’m just not rushing the process,” the Briton added. “I hope within six months we have a firm pair of feet on the ground. It sounds like a long time, but it’s got to be done right. It’s not about this year, it’s not even about next year, it’s about the long term.”
Two tech guys for Williams?
Vowles is still considering whether to split the tech job between two positions, a Technical Director for daily running, and a Chief Technical Officer for a more strategic approach, and unlike the team’s recent hiring of Fred Brousseau as a Chief Operating Officer back in March, who comes from the aerospace industry instead of F1, the technical job needs a person with experience in the sport.
“We had Fred [Brousseau] join us [from the aerospace industry], he’s our chief operating officer – I think that sort of fit is very good, it brings experience from different industry that is relevant to what we are doing but a different view on how we do things,” he said,
“But in a Technical Director role or perhaps a Chief Technical Officer role – you might need one or both – you very much need someone who knows how to do that within our business,” the former Mercedes strategy head insisted.
Many who see Williams in their current state, forget that they have won 114 grands prix, nine F1 Constructors’ Titles, and seven F1 Drivers’ Crowns. Their last win was in 2012, with Pastor Maldonado winning that year’s Spanish Grand Prix.
Would Vowles be the person to get Williams back to their former glory?