Williams' championship 'never just about money' - Vowles


Williams went into the final race of the 2023 season knowing they had a fight on their hands to keep hold of seventh place in the constructors' championship from an in-form AlphaTauri.

Williams had a seven point lead over their rivals going into the Abu Dhabi GP. With neither Alex Albon nor Logan Sargeant able to claim points, it meant that Yuki Tsunoda could have pulled it off by finishing sixth or better.

Despite leading the race at one point, Tsunoda came up short and Williams duly clinched P7 in the final team standings. Not losing the spot is estimated to have been worth $9 million to Williams in prize fund money.

But James Vowles, who moved from Mercedes to take over as team principal at Grove at the start of the year after the unexpected departure of Jost Capito, said that the battle had never been just about the money.

"Probably the most important thing is that it sets the foundations for the team, that they have something to build on now," he told Motorsport.com after the race. "What I wanted to do was to stand up and go: this is the start of our journey.

"We're not going backwards from here. This is a new de facto standard and a spring for us," he continued.

"It's not the financial element that we are particularly worried about," he insisted, pointing out that there were swings and roundabouts involved. "You lose out on wind tunnel time."

But of course the money will make a difference, especially for team owners Dorilton Capital who have to watch the spreadsheets which are still dripping in red ink at this stage.

"I've been very open and public about the fact that we're throwing away, in terms of losses, tens of millions,' Vowles acknowledged. "But we're here to invest, to go back to the front, whatever that costs in the short term.

"It always helps having money in the bank account," he said. "What [P7] does is it pretty much helps the discussion when I'm going behind the scenes and asking for $100 million more, which is the numbers we're sort of talking about.

"It makes a massive difference for that." Vowles conceded.

Given that situation, it was a tense time on the Williams pit wall at Yas Marina as their fate hinged on Tsunoda's performance which was completely out of their control. But Vowles denied feeling any nerves on the night.

"I oddly enough don't really get nervous in races, [even though] Netflix were filming me!" he said. "I'm pretty sure my expressions at some points aren't going to be the best!

"But the conclusion I came to before the race even started is that whatever happened, I was proud of what we have achieved up until this point.

"[At one point] AlphaTauri were leading the race on the strategy they chose, and they were quick. So to finish ahead of them is a proud moment for me.

"We must remember that we cut off development before any other team on the grid and then I asked the team to please, by the way, finish seventh!

"To do that, to do that by a matter of points tells me we made the right decisions, and that the team has worked really well together to be where we are."

Alexander Albon (THA) Williams Racing FW45. 28.11.2023. Formula 1 Testing, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, Tuesday. - www.xpbimages.com, EMail: requests@xpbimages.com © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images

Vowles faces a key decision over the winter break about his driver line-up. Albon has been hailed for a break-through season and will definitely be back, but there's still doubt about the status of Sargeant.

The American rookie was signed up before Vowles took over as team principal, and went on to secure just a solitary championship point in the United States GP to finish 21st in the drivers standings.

But Vowles insisted that no decision had been made about replacing Sargeant with one of the latest generation of top talent from F2 such as Théo Pourchaire or Frederik Vesti.

“Whatever happens Logan has been part of the Williams Academy for many years, and will always remain a part of our academy, and he is a quick driver," Vowles told F1TV in Abu Dhabi.

“You can see signs that what he is doing is what he needs to earn the seat, but we aren’t in a position to confirm that. We’re proud of the steps he has made this season.”

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