James Vowles has already created a “new” and “refreshed” atmosphere at the Williams Formula 1 Team following his arrival from Mercedes.
Williams parted ways with former Team Principal Jost Capito after finishing bottom of the standings in 2022, with Technical Director FX Demaison also departing.
The Grove-based side announced the appointment of Vowles on the eve of the current campaign, with the British engineer vacating the Brackley-based outfit after 21 years of service through its various guises.
There has been a marked improvement in Williams’ results following Vowles’ arrival. The team sits seventh in the Constructor’s standings with a total of 11 points from the first 12 rounds – a tally already greater than that of its entire 2022 total.
However, according to Williams’ Head of Vehicle Performance Dave Robson, it’s not just the side’s on-track performance that has taken an upturn with Vowles at the helm.
“James has brought a wealth of experience and knowledge,” Robson said following the Hungarian Grand Prix last month.
“And also, I think, a whole new approach which is really starting to spread around the factory. I think that’s probably gone hand in hand with Alex [Albon] maturing and becoming quite calm and consistent, level-headed and James brings something similar.
“He obviously also brings clear knowledge of, as we talked about, what Andrew [Shovlin] and his colleagues have got at MGP. And so, it really feels like we’ve now got a clear plan for the next few years.
“That’s very much rooted in recent top-level experience, and now we’re just going to put that into action. But in the short term, yeah, the whole atmosphere is new, and it’s refreshed.”
“It’s helped by some of the on-track results, but I think that whole thing is a little bit chicken and egg, and James has definitely played his part in that.”
Since his arrival, Vowles has cited a prolonged lack of investment as a key concern, with some infrastructure estimated to be 20 years out of date compared to its rivals.
Williams had been a family-run team until its August 2020 takeover by Dorilton Capital in an acquisition valued at $200m.
While it now stands on a better footing financially, F1’s cost cap rules on capital expenditure mean that investment in the team’s facilities cannot be expected quickly.
“So right now, for a lot of facilities that are missing, even if I have a spade and I broke ground tomorrow, it’d be 36 months before most of the big infrastructure is in place,” Vowles explained.
“That’s different to a lot of other teams that already have that, and that’s not an abnormal period of time, the really quick stuff will be 24 months. That’s just getting the infrastructure in place.
“That’s not changing behaviours, culture, systems, integrating proper ERP [enterprise resource planning] into our entire world, that’s just buildings and infrastructure that’s not there.
“Your bare minimum you’re looking at is getting the infrastructure in place, plus a period of time of learning with it, and trying to catch up to your rivals that have been using it for 15 years.
“So, when we talk about five years, there’s good reason behind it.”