Vowles puts Williams’ TD organization as a priority

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By Fernanda Álvarez

While Williams moved quickly to hire James Vowles as its new team boss just after Jost Capito decided to step aside, the two top technical jobs at the Grove-based team remain unfilled after Technical director Francois-Xavier Demaison and head of aerodynamics Dave Wheater both left the team in December, in parallel with the departure of the former team principal.

Speaking to the press in Bahrain about this, the former Mercedes Strategy Director assumed the topic is a priority inside the team’s precedences.

“I think the primary thing is we don’t have the structure in place technically, obviously, as a result of the changes that were made,” said Vowles.

“And number one is let’s put in place a proper set of structures, in terms of technical director, head of aero. That’s number one because clearly, an organisation needs those to move forward.

“So there’s a strong organization in place, and it’s acting without a TD. As we speak today, there’s a car on track, it’s built. They did an incredible job over the winter to achieve that.”

“What’s clear is this is not about short-term putting someone in place, this is about long-term, and making sure we have the right person in place. We’re not going to rush to a decision, the key is making sure we find the person that fits the organization for the long term.”

Photo: Williams Racing

Vowles took the time to recognize the worth of the Williams’ personnel, in spite of the team’s difficult last years.

“There’s a number of great people there on site,” he said. “They’ve obviously had a difficult probably last 15 years or so, due to just circumstance, lack of investment and otherwise.

“But you can still tell that there the same level of passion that is shared, irrespective of the grid position you’re in, is there, and available to you. And the work, whatever it takes really to move forward.”

He also admitted that he will have to get used to working at a team that doesn’t have the same resources as Mercedes.

“It’s just understanding where Williams is. I had the benefit really, of being in an organization where if you required something, you asked for it, and you’re provided with it. We had everything you could possibly imagine.

“And it’s a stark contrast to where I’m now. especially in an environment in the cost cap where it’s difficult to request or even pay for what you need.”

The Briton concluded by commenting on a realistic but positive note from the performance shown by the 2023 challenger in the first days of testing in Bahrain.

“I suspect I’ll probably mirror comments that are up and down the pitlane, but the wind and the direction it is in Bahrain at the moment, that’s a tailwind into Turn 1, actually makes the balance very difficult for the drivers.

“So the comments I’m pretty sure will be a mirror image in Williams as they are in Red Bull, as they are in other organizations. So it’s a struggle as a result of that, it’s quite a nasty feeling when the wind’s behind you, especially under braking.

“Otherwise, I think there’s some positive commentary, certainly relative to last year. But it’s an early, early sort of sequence of events where we are now just two days into testing to really draw any sensible conclusions.”