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Williams: Vowles can help "finish off the journey" in F1 turnaround

Incoming Williams Formula 1 boss James Vowles can provide long-term stability and help "finish off the journey" in taking the team forward, according to sporting chief Sven Smeets.

James Vowles, Williams

Williams F1

Vowles will take over as team principal at Williams on 20 February after announcing last month he would be leaving his position of motorsport strategy director at Mercedes.

Vowles takes over at Williams from Jost Capito, who exited the team in December after two seasons in charge. Vowles will be tasked with pushing to turn the team around after it slumped to the foot of the constructors' championship last year, struggling to compete in the midfield on a regular basis.

Since acquiring the team in 2020, Dorilton Capital has provided financial stability that helped arrest Williams's slide, but sporting director Smeets thought it was important for a long-term leader to now help Williams take the next step.

"It's very important for the team to have somebody that now finishes off that journey and brings Williams forward again," said Smeets.

"We all know that was not going to be a one-year journey. I think James is very eager to start and he will be very committed to bringing Williams forwards.

"So, for the long term, that feels very good."

The move will mark Vowles's first step into the top role at an F1 team, but he has been an integral part of Mercedes' senior management through its recent domination and run of championship wins.

Dave Robson, the head of vehicle performance at Williams, thought Vowles's experience working with a championship-winning squad would be of huge benefit to the team.

Williams FW45 livery

Williams FW45 livery

Photo by: Williams

"When he arrives in a couple of weeks' time, we'll find out what he's got planned," said Robson.

"But I think what he does bring is obviously a wealth of experience from Mercedes and its incarnations before that. He knows what it takes to be at the top and stay at the top.

"I think, personally, he's very ambitious. He's clearly very smart. So we're really looking forward to getting him on board and letting him direct us on the next bit of the journey."

Robson said that Williams "can't get around the fact that investment has been a problem" prior to Dorilton's takeover, leaving it playing catch-up with the rest of the grid that would still take some time.

But he was hopeful Vowles would bring stability to Grove and help it take the next step forward.

"We're ready now to go on that next stage of this redevelopment," said Robson. "Some sense of stability and a much longer-term plan, [that] will stand us in good stead."

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Williams driver Alex Albon said he had discussed Vowles' move with Mercedes counterpart George Russell, and said that everyone "speaks very highly of James."

"There is obviously a bit of a waiting situation, waiting to get started," said Albon.

"You can see that he's very keen. He's motivated to get the team to where he knows the team can be. It's exciting."

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