Ex-Formula 1 driver Vitaly Petrov has claimed the decision Mercedes made in letting James Vowles leave the team was not something he would have allowed to materialise if the choice had been up to him.
It was announced earlier this month that Vowles would be departing Mercedes to fill the vacant role of team principal down at Williams in an unexpected move.
Williams’ hiring of Vowles to replace Jost Capito, who left the team at the end of last year, was among a flurry of sweeping changes to take place at the top of multiple constructors over the winter and marked the end of an era for the British engineer after over 20 years of service with the Brackley-based side through its various guises.
However, following a troubled 2022 season for Mercedes, Petrov has questioned the timing of letting one of the team’s former key personnel depart.
“Now everything will depend on how Mercedes solves the problems with the car and how they replace such a man,” Petrov was quoted as saying by Speedweek.com at the Russian Portal Championship recently.
“Honestly, I would never have let him go,”
But Petrov has also acknowledged that he entirely understands the decision from the perspective of Vowles in electing to leave the eight-time world champions for a fresh challenge.
“Of course, I understand that it is sometimes not possible to keep a man in the same position for a long time. Because there are simply employees who are looking for a fresh job, and that is not a question of money either.
“From Vowles’ point of view, I can understand the situation”, the Russian said.
Vowles will finally begin his Williams tenure on 20 February a mere few weeks ahead of the opening race of the year in Bahrain, with the Grove team revealing their 2023 car to the world on the slightly earlier date of 6 February.