Mercedes chief strategy officer James Vowles will join Williams as team principal on February 20, filling the vacancy left by Jost Capito last month.
Vowles is best known for his role in racing strategies at Mercedes, including occasional messages to drivers on the team radio explaining pit wall decisions. However, he moved away from hands-on involvement in strategic decisions midway through 2022 to take on a broader leadership role and has long been tasked with overseeing its young driver programme.
He comes to Williams with two decades of F1 experience and an in-depth knowledge of Mercedes, having spent his career working for the Brackley-based team through several different owners from his days as British American Racing.
“I can’t wait to get started with Williams Racing,” Vowles said. “It is an honor to join a team with such an incredibly rich heritage.
“The team is an icon of our sport, one that I have enormous respect for, and I look forward to the challenge.
“Mercedes has been tremendously supportive of me on my journey, and we are parting on excellent terms after more than 20 years working at Brackley. I am grateful for everything, Toto [Wolff] and the team provided, and it was such a special experience to walk together through failure and success.
“Williams Racing has placed its faith and trust in me, and I will do the same in return. Williams has enormous potential, and our journey together begins in a few weeks.”
The Williams F1 team, which won nine constructors’ championships in the 1980s and 1990s, has finished last in four of F1’s last five championships after a steady decline over recent decades.
Vowles’ predecessor Capito was employed by current owners Dorilton Capital to turn the team around after the investment firm bought it from the Williams family in August 2020. He lasted two seasons, overseeing the initial progress in 2021 with an eighth place finish in the Championship, before Williams dropped to last place under new technical regulations last year.
Technical director Francois Xavier Demaison, whom Capito recruited from Williams after working with him at Volkswagen, also left in December last year.
Matthew Savage, President of Dorilton Owners, said: “We are delighted to welcome James to Williams Racing. He is one of the most respected talents in Formula 1 and will bring performance.
“He has played a key role in some of the sport’s most impressive feats over the past 15 years. As we continue our relentless pursuit of results, we believe James’ appointment reinforces our commitment to ensuring we have energy, experience, and strong leadership as we enter the next phase of transformation for Williams Racing.”
Williams is due to hold a pre-season launch event at its factory on February 6 where drivers Alex Albon and new American signing Logan Sargeant will unveil the team’s new livery for 2023.
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