New Williams team principal James Vowles walked through the doors of the team’s headquarters in Oxfordshire last month well aware of the task at hand as he took on the role.
Founded in 1977, Williams went on to become one of the most successful teams in Formula 1 history. Clay Regazzoni claimed the team’s first grand prix win in 1979, and the first of nine constructors’ titles came a year later. Only Ferrari have been champions more times.
But Williams last won a race in 2012 and since coming third in the standings in 2015 has primarily been on a downwards trajectory with its form. They came last in 2018 with just seven points, and have struggled to improve since.
The 2019 campaign was a disaster, the car not even ready in time for pre-season testing. In 2020 neither George Russell or Nicholas Latifi scored and Williams finished last in the constructors’ championship for the third season running. Amid growing financial pressures exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Williams family was forced to sell up, and Dorilton Capital took over.
“The team has over the last 15 years been through a tremendous amount of difficulty financially and otherwise, and it survived through all of that,” Vowles said ahead of his first race in charge, adding there are “stark differences between where we are today and where we need to be in the future”.
Vowles spent 20 years at Mercedes before taking over the role of team principal just a few days before 2023 pre-season testing. He hopes his experience means he knows exactly where Williams needs to improve and he did not sugar-coat the scale of the challenge they face, dismissing any ideas of a quick turnaround in their fortunes.
“To break into the top three is incredibly difficult,” he said. “They have resources beyond your dreams. They have experience beyond your dreams. They have the best people on the grid.
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“As you become better and better at what you do, you also become more and more cost-efficient. I don’t mean through other external techniques, I mean just simply your composite production. So all of those additional costs that will be borne by teams that perhaps are fourth and backwards.”
His goal for the team is to make incremental gains in performance. “I think certainly a realistic step for this organisation is, first and foremost, to make…
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