Vowles raises Williams expectations: ‘Vegas will suit our car’


Williams team boss James Vowles says he’s looking forward to next weekend’s Las Vegas Grand Prix, as he believes that F1’s extravagant new venue offers Williams promising prospects.

Unfortunately, Williams left Sao Paulo last weekend with little to show for its efforts, with Alex Albon eliminated at the outset following a start-line crash and Logan Sargeant finishing just outside the points.

The team’s pointless weekend in Brazil allowed midfield rival AlphaTauri to continue to draw closer to Williams in F1’s Constructors’ standings.

The two teams are now separated by just seven points with two races to go.

“I’m pleased to confirm that in Brazil both cars were on the same specification and for Las Vegas as well, both cars will be on the same specification,” said Vowles earlier this week in his post-Sao Paulo GP debrief.

“We’ve been working towards that as we get towards the end of the year and as we get towards tracks that I think will suit the package more so than the beginning of the year.

“The crash definitely hurt the amount of quantities we have, but we had already taken into account some level of attrition. So both [drivers] will still be on that advanced spec.”

Forty-one years on from its previous and ill-fated residency in the gambling capital of the world, F1 returns to Sin City.

The event’s opulent entertainment and glamorous experience has been hyped into the stratosphere by the race’s promoters, and although Vowles is eager to experience the event’s bright and promising sights and sounds, the Williams boss is first and foremost anticipating a strong display by his team on Las Vegas’ rapid street circuit.

“I’ve personally been looking forward to Las Vegas for a number of reasons,” added the Briton.

“First and foremost, I think it’s going to be a spectacle and a half of an event, but second because I think there are elements of it that will very much suit our car.

“Positives are, it’s a track where if you had to pick where you were on efficiency of the car, rear wing level if you like.

“It’s close to Monza, maybe just about Spa than it is to all of the other ones; in other words, in a remit where we know we have tended to perform well and where the strengths of the car lie.”

Last weekend, Sao Paulo’s high track temperatures on race day were a cause for concern for most teams, and Williams was no exception.

Single-digit temperatures in Las Vegas might mitigate tyre wear concerns, but the street circuit’s brand-now surface will also be a major factor at play according to Vowles.

“It’s going to be a brand new surface, a brand new and very slippery surface. You saw in Qatar just how much that changed across the weekend in terms of both lap times, but [also] how the tyres were behaving,” he said.

“That creates opportunity, but it creates risk at the same time. I think we may see some issues on those very soft compounds certainly right at the beginning of the race.

“Maybe it will improve as the race weekend goes on, but that may create risk or reward.

“I think that certainly compared to the last few events, it presents one of our best opportunities of making sure we maximise our points score and keep that gap growing relative to AlphaTauri in the championship.”


Williams halted the development of its FW45 months ago to focus on the design of its 2024 car, a move that has certainly helped AlphaTauri which has continued to implement updates on its AT04.

But Vowles has no regrets over his team’s decision to divert its resources towards next year’s charger.

“We stopped work on this year’s car many, many months ago,” Vowles said of the risk from AlphaTauri. “That may mean that we are putting seventh place in the Constructors’ Championship at risk. And even so, I’m very happy with the decision we made.

“Our journey isn’t one about whether we finish seventh or eighth in 2023. It’s one of how do we move this team back to the front.

“What you’re trying to balance in tandem is updates in the background, systems and structures, next year’s car, the 2026 car. And simply, you can’t put all those into the same sphere and hope you come out with success in all of them.


“We want to make a step forward in ‘24. We want to make a step forward in ‘25 and ‘26. And that will take time to put in place properly. You have to go through transformation.

“I don’t want to finish eighth in this championship and we will fight with everything we have until the checkered flag falls in Abu Dhabi to maintain this seventh place.

“But I’m also conscious that we’re asking a race team and drivers to do this with one hand behind their back. That’s okay. I’m still confident that the step on what we’re doing and the decisions we’ve made will still lead to long-term success over short-term game.”

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