James Vowles on FW45’s pace: “There’s still a few more tenths to come across the next few races”

Spread the love

Picture Credits Williams Racing

Williams Racing have had an encouraging start to their 2023 F1 season. Meanwhile, the team is continuously evaluating whether or not they should bring a large upgrade package or a number of small packages to different race weekends. By the team’s own admission, the ‘inherent strengths and weaknesses that were in the car last year are still present this year as well’. As such, they know that there’s going to be tracks where they move forward in relation to others and other tracks where they struggle. Having unexpectedly scored a point at Melbourne in 2022, the team is now in the position that they are expected to score points there in 2023. A clear indication of how much progress the team has made in a short time. 


When Williams Racing Team Principal James Vowles joined the team, he announced on social media: “I know a great many of our supporters have been with us through thick and thin and I’d ask that you maintain that passion and strength. We’re here for the long term and we’re here to be successful.”

That faith of the fans certainly looks to have been rewarded as the FW45 scored a point in the opening race of the season in Bahrain and was in contention to do so in Saudi Arabia before just falling short.  


Next up on the F1 calendar this weekend is the Australian Grand Prix, at a circuit where the team memorably scored a point through Alex Albon being the ‘tyre whisperer’ back in 2022. Due to the pace of the FW45 in 2023, there is now every expectation for the team to achieve this feat once more 


Alex Albon has already remarked in the team’s press release ahead of this weekend.

“I have great memories from last year’s race here and I love coming to Melbourne; it’s a great city and the fans create an amazing atmosphere. It looks like it might be a wet weekend so that’ll be something we’ll be keeping an eye on, but I’m looking forward to it.” 


There is a good reason for Albon’s optimism as the Albert Park Circuit was modified ahead of last year’s Australian Grand Prix and there are only minor adjustments to the track for this year. His rookie teammate, Logan Sargeant, on the other hand has not driven the circuit in real life and it is well known as being a physically demanding track so will be a big test for the American.

An intriguing prospect also comes from the news Williams Racing arrive in Melbourne with a couple of minor upgrades and as such expectation is high. The FW45 always looked a quick car when it was seen on track in preseason testing but it is yet to be tested in variable weather conditions so that could be an interesting variable of the weekend too. 


Head of Vehicle Performance at Williams Racing, Dave Robson, was previously asked back in Jeddah as to whether the pace of the FW45 had taken the team by surprise.

“A little bit yeah. I mean I think we came out of the test thinking we were better than we were last year but maybe still pretty much one of the slower cars. It’s difficult in the test, we know what we’re doing but we don’t know what everyone else is doing,” said Robson.  


At present, Williams Racing are not one of the slower teams and even having had some bad luck sit P8 in the F1 Constructors’ Championship ahead of a ‘pointless’ AlphaTauri and McLaren. Even so, no one within the Grove corridors is getting ahead of themselves as Dave Robson also admitted.

“It’s still early days and still not entirely clear what the other teams are doing and how they’re finding things…It’s sort of the bigger brother of the FW44 perhaps. Heading in the right direction but it’s still fairly clear where there’s work to do.” 


On the question of work yet to be done, James Vowles responded in the Saudi Arabian GP debrief to a fan’s question of whether there is still unlocked potential in the FW45.   

“The car is always a prototype we never aim to bring exactly the same car bit through an understanding from previous races or even changes and improvements aerodynamically or otherwise we’re continuously trying to move forward through the season. That said, there was a tremendous amount still within the package…there’s still a few more tenths to come across the next few races. However, competitors up and down the grid are having a very similar conversation where they also have potential to come and it’s a race between all of us to see who unlocks the most in the shortest period of time.” 

As much as success is coming early on this year to Williams Racing, James Vowles made clear in his remarks that it is key to look ahead long term as he stated: “In terms of how we move forward from here, it’s very clear we have some base fundamentals that we’ve just got to go back and make sure we’re very happy with. First and foremost, build structures that allow us to generate performance not for tomorrow but for next year and the years beyond and that takes time to do properly. It’s very easy to do short-term gain but that isn’t how you’ll move forward up and down the grid because everyone’s doing that.” 


Williams Racing is very much a team moving forward and the future certainly looks bright for the 9 time F1 Constructors’ Champions. F1 has many new fans of late who may be unaware of the celebrated history of this legendary racing team and its past success. However, with James Vowles at the helm, they may very well have up to date success in the coming years to celebrate as well.