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Williams won't sacrifice F1 future for "a millisecond more" from 2023 car

Williams team principal James Vowles says he will prioritise investing in the team's future over "putting even a millisecond more" on the team's 2023 Formula 1 car.

Alex Albon, Williams FW45

Vowles was headhunted by Williams owners Dorilton from Mercedes at the start of this year to oversee a total rebuild of the struggling squad.

He soon impressed on the American investment firm that Williams' overhaul would take years as it is lagging behind its midfield rivals in many areas of its Grove base's infrastructure.

Despite its predicament, Williams has grabbed some standout results with lead driver Alex Albon in 2023 thanks to its efficient FW45, which shines at low-downforce circuits.

But speaking exclusively to Motorsport.com, Vowles says he would do nothing to sacrifice the team's long-term progress for its 2023 performance level.

"My interest isn't on this year. It's not even on next year. My interest is putting in place structures and systems for '25, '26 and beyond," Vowles explained.

"The reason why I explain that to the whole organisation and to tell everyone publicly is the following: It is so easy because that's what Formula 1 is, to be caught in the moment and do everything you can to make the moment better.

"But if you're sacrificing even a little sliver of what's in the future, you're doing the wrong thing."

James Vowles, Team Principal, Williams Racing

James Vowles, Team Principal, Williams Racing

Photo by: Williams

That presents a philosophical shift for Williams, which has dragged itself through several years of short-term survival due to underinvestment until Dorilton purchased the historic team in 2020.

"What this team's been very good at for many years is focusing on the now. And the now only makes you good for a very short moment in time and you fall back," Vowles warned.

"Even other teams that we've mentioned are doing a very good job mid-term, but if you do a very, very good job in the long-term, you make a jump. That jump becomes established for a longer period of time.

"Treat it as endurance training for running. That endurance training will pay you dividends. Even if you stop running for two weeks, you'll still be there. You can do sprints and you'll be absolutely amazing at sprints for a period of time. But stop, and it will fall away just as quickly. We're about setting up the long-term pace of things."

That does not mean Williams will give up on 2023, as Albon and rookie team-mate Logan Sargeant are still expected to do well at next month's Italian Grand Prix at high-speed Monza. The inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix, on a street circuit lacking high-downforce corners, could also be an opportunity for the team to consolidate its joint seventh place in the constructors' standings.

"With the car we have, always at race weekends, I'll do my utmost, as will the team, to get every point we can out of it. It doesn't preclude that," Vowles added.

"What it does preclude though is that if you gave me a chance between putting even a millisecond more on this year's car, or investing in the future, it's a very clear decision which way to go."

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