James Vowles says he has seen a ‘spark’ within the Williams Racing team since he joined the Grove-based team as Team Principal as he begins to settle into his new role.
Vowles left the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team during the off-season to replace Jost Capito as Team Principal at Williams, and he is beginning to implement different ways of working in a bid to improve the teams’ position on the grid.
After the opening two races of the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship, Williams currently sits eighth in the Constructors’ Championship with one point to their name, courtesy of Alexander Albon’s tenth place finish in the Bahrain Grand Prix.
And Vowles has said he has felt the team come alive since he joined and he believes everyone can see the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ after many years racing towards the back of the pack in Formula 1.
“The best word I could use is ‘spark’,” Vowles is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com. “There’s a spark and it’s fascinating to see. There are shoulders lifted, there’s heads held high now, there is really direction that they can see where we’re going and how we’re moving forward.
“It’s a team clearly that have had a tremendously difficult winter and difficult few years even prior to that. But they can start to see the light at the end of the tunnel and direction we’re going in.”
As well as Capito, Williams also saw the departure during the winter of Technical Director FX Demaison and the Head of Aerodynamics David Wheater, and Vowles says that whilst intermediary replacements are in place, it is key to bring in people with good experience to supplement them.
“Going forward, there’s a technical leadership where at the moment, I have lots of people standing in and doing a great job, but we need to supplement them with good experience from industry,” he said.
One appointment that has been made was Frederic Brousseau as Chief Operating Officer, and although he has not been involved in Formula 1 before, Vowles says his experience within the aerospace industry will help Williams.
“A Formula 1 car is circa 15,000 components that have to be built, produced and fit together within the space of a few weeks,” Vowles said. “To get that properly done, you need an amount of planning across all of your organisation and that’s really what he brings to the table.
“He’s done that at Pratt & Whitney, he’s been there for over 20 years, he has a good experience and good knowledge about how to bring thousands of people – in our case, hundreds – together in a key clinch moment.
“And especially under the cost cap; the more efficient you can be at doing that, the more money that’s available to develop the car later. I think it’s a key element of every aspect of the team.”