Vowles promises 'big names' are heading to Williams

James Vowles (GBR) Williams Racing Team Principal in the FIA Press Conference. 07.06.2024. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 9, Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal, Canada, Practice Day. - www.xpbimages.com, EMail: requests@xpbimages.com © Copyright: Price / XPB Images
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Williams principal James Vowles has promised that there will be a slate of big name signings heading to the team in the coming months as the squad continues its rebuilding programme.

It was only two years ago that Williams finished the 2022 season with its fourth wooden spoon in the F1 constructors championship since 2018, an almost unimaginable decline for a team that once dominated the sport.

Former Mercedes head of strategy Vowles was hired by Dorilton Capital to succeed Jost Capito at the start of last season to spearhead the squad's renaissance. Williams immediately jumped up to P7 last year in his first season in charge.

But he knows that he has to keep up the momentum, and his focus is on building a team at Grove capable of ensuring Williams moves closer to the front of the grid over the next few years.

Pat Fry has already joined as chief technical officer in November 2023, but Vowles says the F1 veteran is just the first of many new staff members that will be announced in the near future.

“We’re not yet unfortunately in a position to announce these, but when we do start to announce who we have signed, they’re going to see big names recognised by a lot of people."

Vowles said that the new hires ranged "across our technical organisation, across our aerodynamic organisation," adding" “In the background there's a number of really great signings that will slowly start edging out into the world.

Alexander Albon (THA) Williams Racing FW46 on the grid. 19.05.2024. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 7, Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Imola, Italy, Race Day. - www.xpbimages.com, EMail: requests@xpbimages.com © Copyright: Charniaux / XPB Images

“And not small numbers," he continued. "I think we’re at about 20, 30 people now that have huge accolades in the sport and will contribute towards the success of Williams. We’re in a good position.

“It’s always slower than you’d like it to," he admitted. You’d like people through the door tomorrow. But what I’ve done is made sure we wait for the right people, and then sign them and bring them in.”

"It’s going the way I’d like it to," he told Sky Sports F1. "[It's] very good," adding that this was the reason why he had decided to strike out from the relative safety of Mercedes. “This isn’t the Williams of old."

Recently Vowles has been strongly talking up the possibility of signing current Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz for 2025, which he said demonstrated his own ambitions for Williams.

"The fact that we have Sainz on our list [of potential drivers for 2025] will certainly show you that this isn’t how we’ve performed of late," he pointed out.

“We are prepared to have a driver line-up that I think is going to be one of the best on the grid, if it’s achieved, and that’s a different era that we’re going into.

Logan Sargeant (USA) Williams Racing on the grid. 09.06.2024. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 9, Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal, Canada, Race Day. - www.xpbimages.com, EMail: requests@xpbimages.com © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images

“We were a team that were tenth for many years," he said. "Yes, last year we were seventh and we started this year poorly, [but] keep an eye out for us.

"We’re now starting to put performance to the car race by race, and this is a different entity to what it was before.”

He added that this ambition extends across the entire operation. "We’re investing tens if not hundreds of millions to [get] this team back to where it was in terms of success.

"This really is a good journey where we’re now starting to see the hard work that started 12 months ago come into play, and that gives me every reason to be confident that we’re moving forward."

So far this season Williams have picked up two championship points courtesy of Alex Albon, but Logan Sargeant is yet to finish in the top ten in 2024.

Changes this week to the superlicence system have reignited speculation that Mercedes might ask Vowles to replace Sargeant with their rising star Andrea Kimi Antonelli for the second half of the season.

Currently racing in Formula 2, Antonelli is seen as the hot favourite to replace Lewis Hamilton alongside George Russell at Brackley, but a few warm-up races with a team at the back would give the 17-year-old Italian a head start.

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