Williams FW44 Mercedes on track during the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi

Ex-F1 driver throws doubts on James Vowles' Williams move: "There’s some Mercedes element to this deal"

Former F1 driver and Sky Sports pundit Karun Chandhok stated that James Volwes' move to Williams from Mercedes caught everyone in the paddock by surprise. Volwes was the Chief Strategy Officer at the German manufacturer and helped guide the team to eight successive constructors' championships.

So, it was a shock to everyone when it was announced that he would be Williams' new team principal ahead of the 2023 season, replacing Jost Capito. Many, including Chandhok, believe that there might be a caveat to the move as the British team have close associations with the Mercedes AMG F1 team.

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We are delighted to announce that James Vowles is coming onboard to lead the team. We’re looking forward to him joining our journey from 20th Feb!


Speaking to Sky Sports F1, Kandhok said:

“I think it caught most of the paddock by surprise. I do wonder whether there’s some Mercedes element to this deal because it’s very rare that you find someone certainly in a senior position of a team moving across with zero gardening leave, and James has done that, so clearly a very amicable thing."

He added:

“I mean, to the point of which I think Mercedes, basically, were orchestrating the press announcement in some ways, certainly liaising with the media,”

“I think it’s a good move" - Karun Chandhok on James Volwes becoming Williams's team principal

Chandhok revealed that James Volwes becoming Williams' new team principal was a good move for both parties. He applauded Williams' ownership for bringing someone with immense technical and engineering knowledge as they were lacking behind in aerodynamic understanding of their car.

Chandhok added:

“I think it’s a good move. Actually, I like the fact that they’ve gone for a bold move in terms of getting someone who hasn’t done the role before, but someone with an engineering background, who’s recently worked with a top team. He’s going to bring the technical knowledge, he’s going to bring an understanding of a team structure that perhaps Williams didn’t have in recent times. And he’s a smart guy, we all know James in the paddock, he’s got a strong work ethic."

He further noted:

“But Formula 1 teams are like big tankers, you can’t just pivot quickly, it’s going to take a long time and a lot of work. I think he’s got his work cut out for him. I think the biggest challenge is how quickly can he poach other top people from other teams. I think because you can have all the technology in the world but it is still a human sport,"

It would be interesting to see if James Volwes can take the team forward from the back of the grid in 2023.

Edited by
Diptanil Roy
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