Toto Wolff has voiced his support for “right hand man” James Vowles who is leaving Mercedes after 20-years to take over the Team Principal role at Williams.
Vowles was announced as the new Williams boss in January following the resignation of Jost Capito in December 2022. He is set to start working with the team on February 20.
Vowles had a key figure in Mercedes’ strategy department before moving off of the pit wall and transitioning towards team management alongside Wolff.
“Beyond the strategy, James has been looking after driver contracts, reserve driver contracts and many, many other political topics together with me and in the past year, we decided that he would hand over the reins to a new team of strategists,” Wolff said.
“And, since July, James has been moving off the pit wall and not actively interfering anymore in the decision-making on race weekends.
“Being with me and basically overlooking the situation like I have done for many years now, [this] next step is something that James deserves.
“But because within our organisation, for him to move up, I would need to move aside and I feel there is something left in me that I can add or contribute.
Wolff noted that he was pleased to see Vowles land the Williams job due to his personal affection with the marque, having once been its executive director.
“Going to Williams, a team that is close to my personal heart and will always cherish is obviously great and having an aspiring partner at Williams, someone that is very logical and rational whilst very experienced in Formula 1 is an overall benefit for both Williams and Mercedes.”
Vowles comes from an engineering background and whilst the role of Team Principal also involves the commercial and political aspects of the sport, Wolff is adamant that his former colleague is well-equipped for his new position.
“[Being a Team Principal] is such a niche position, because you need to have the commercial understanding, the political perspectives and not be fooled by what you’ve been told by someone in the technical or engineering area,” Wolff commented.
“James ticks many of those boxes, and on the commercial side he was involved in many of the activities that we’ve done in the past few years.
“Before the last step was done, he came to me and said: ‘What do you think about it?,’ and [more often than not], we were very aligned.
“I think that he absolutely understands commercial strategy so, even though James’ background is in engineering, I would put him more in my camp in terms of skills than let’s say a pure engineer.
“But having said that, it’s about the personality – you can have an engineering background and still be the right personality for Team Principal, or you can have a business or finance background and be able to contribute well to an organisation.”