Williams F1 has named James Vowles as its new team principal. Vowles (43) will join the Grove team from Mercedes AMG Petronas, where he has been Motorsport Strategy Director for the last three years.
Vowles has had an impressive career to date, which goes back 21 years, to when he joined British American Racing as a junior engineer, at the age of just 22.
He had an international education as his father was based in Geneva and so James attended the International School there. He then studied computer science at the University of East Anglia, graduating at the age of 20 and went on to study for a Masters in Motorsport Engineering and Management from Cranfield University and then joining BAR in Brackley.
He has been there ever since and played an important role as a strategist, overseeing no fewer than nine World Championship titles with Brawn GP and then Mercedes. Vowles has long been viewed as a possible replacement for Toto Wolff at Mercedes, but with Wolff showing no signs of stepping aside, the offer from Williams came at the right moment as it will mean that James will get operational experience as a team principal, which could be useful one day if Mercedes wanted to take him back.
The team is still to decide on a technical director but expect announcements to be made in the next few months. The new FW45 is already finished and so the focus for the new recruit will be on the 2024 car. Williams still has a lot of work to day to get up to speed after 10 years without sufficient investment but the owners (whoever they may be) are in F1 for the long haul and have not been tempted to sell up, take a big profit and then depart.
“James has been a highly valued member of our team in his role as Motorsport Strategy Director, playing an integral part in our success in recent years,” said Toto Wolff. “Having worked with him since I first joined the team in 2013, I know how diligent, capable and talented he is and have taken great satisfaction from watching James develop and grow over the past decade. Since stepping back from the pit wall mid-season last year, he has continued to build the capability of our strategy team at Brackley, and we have a fantastic group of talented strategists who will continue their superb work in the years to come. While we are naturally sad to be saying goodbye to such a capable member of the team, I have no doubts whatsoever that he has all the necessary skills to become a fantastic Team Principal in Formula One. We wish him every success and are delighted that he will take this next step in his career with Williams, a strong technical partner of ours and one that has a place close to my own heart.”