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Williams F1 still on crutches but recovery is underway, says Vowles

The Williams Formula 1 team is operating “on crutches” until it can hire more personnel to fill “voids” and kickstart its recovery programme, according to boss James Vowles. 

Alex Albon, Williams FW45

Photo by: Williams

Vowles has been at the helm since February and after a three-month back and forth, managed to tempt Alpine chief technical officer Pat Fry to join the Grove squad from 1 November. 

While the team hopes this coup will enable it to tempt other senior figures, the technical director who will report to Fry is more likely to be a rival squad’s design number two seeking a lead role. 

Until Williams fully bolsters its technical department, Vowles says his leadership team is having to divert attention away from the recovery plan. This is leaving the outfit “on crutches”. 

Vowles explained: “We're fortunate with the team I have behind me at the moment because they are filling voids that exist. But clearly, we're on crutches. 

“We're trying to do 10 things and it's always better if you focus on one. 

“I'm not a strong engineer within the paddock. There are much stronger engineers than I am. 

“What I am, though, is someone with a vision of where we want to get to and lead people there on that direction. People, at the moment, are very much aligned with that view.” 

James Vowles, Team Principal, Williams Racing, in the Team Principals Press Conference

James Vowles, Team Principal, Williams Racing, in the Team Principals Press Conference

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Vowles says he wants more hires to act as ‘trusted lieutenants’ to filter ideas down the chain of command. This will enable him to move away from splitting his time between race strategy, allocating finance and sitting on F1 Commission meetings. 

The former Mercedes head of strategy continued: “At the moment, we have a small leadership team that are cascading ideas. 

“But you get an almost exponential improvement in the amount of people you put in place, the training you put in place, and the ideas, the more you have lieutenants that you trust. That’s not the case today.” 

Vowles says that when he is freed up, he will be able to focus on shaping the next five years for Williams while Fry will bring ‘new design concepts to the fore’. 

“The case today is I'll be spending 10 minutes on what we're doing technically for the next few races, 10 minutes on what we're going to do strategically across the race, 10 minutes on how we are going to spend money in three years' time, 10 minutes on the F1 commission,” said Vowles. 

“The more I can focus in on the bits that I think I'll be stronger at, which is strategically across the next five years - how we move chess pieces into a strong pace - the stronger Williams will become. 

“The other bit is, there's no doubt about it, Pat has been more in the detail of technical than I have been across the last 10 years or so. That is his bread and butter. 

“So, you will get this input of new ideas, new concepts, new ideas that will come to the fore.” 

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