Williams Racing Team Principal James Vowles attended the FIA’s afternoon press conference alongside his Alfa Romeo, AlphaTauri and Mercedes counterparts today.
After a positive first race of the season, James fielded a range of questions from the media ahead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix this weekend.
Here’s a summary of what JV had to say.
His assessment of the FW45 so far
It's got a lot of the characteristics of last year's car. So, what I mean by that since there's going to be tracks where it's very strong as it was last year as well. I think here, for example, you'll see it suits the track a little bit more.
But exactly as mentioned previously, we need to take care, because these two tracks are not the normality throughout the season. There are plenty of other tracks where there are some weaknesses that are definitely inherent in the car, still in the car. That will come forward.
On the vibe at Grove
The best word that I could use is ‘spark’. There’s a spark and it’s fascinating to see; there are shoulders lifted, and there are heads held high now.
There is direction, they can see where we’re going and how we’re moving forward. It’s a team that clearly have had a difficult winter and a difficult few years prior to that, but they can start to see the light at the end of the tunnel and the direction we’re going in.
On the difference to Mercedes
It is very different. You have to take into account that Mercedes was dominant for so many years, it has facilities beyond dreams to a certain extent. Williams didn’t necessarily have that.
However, what I can see between both organisations is passion and a desire to effectively move forward the best you can, and that remains there whether you’re at the back of the grid or the front.
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On our new COO, Frederic Brousseau
A Formula 1 car is circa 15,000 components that have to be built, produced and fit together within the space of a few weeks. To get that properly done, you need an amount of planning across all of your organisation and that’s really what he brings to the table.
He’s done that at Pratt & Whitney, he’s been there for over 20 years, he has good experience and good knowledge about how to bring thousands of people - in our case, hundreds - in a key clinch moment and especially under the cost cap. The more efficient you can be at doing that, the more money that’s available to the car later.
First impressions of Logan
From the first laps of testing, immediately you could see that the pace was there. I was a little bit reticent in wondering whether or not it would take him a little bit of time to get used to it.
The second aspect is it was his first Grand Prix - the pressure on your shoulders is enormous and he took it in his stride. He was three wide through Turn 1; normally in your rookie race that ends up in disaster, and he just dealt with it with enormous amounts of maturity.
And from then onwards and I’m sure as you’ll see throughout the year he’ll step forward.
On what Logan’s feedback is like
Very good. As you would imagine, he hasn’t got the experience that Alex brings to the team, but he has this young, fiery passion that comes with things. He wants every millisecond you can out of the car.
On Logan’s place and worth in the team
So my path with Logan was crossed several years prior to that, he came to Mercedes as a sim evaluation [driver], and I was interested in looking at him because he had performance, especially when you go back to his Formula 3 performance at an average team.
He was there with Oscar [Piastri] and I rate Oscar also highly - at the time at Mercedes we had a good suite of drivers so that was where my relationship with it ended.
Prior to me arriving at Williams Racing, Williams funded - it’s very important to state this - his Formula 2 career, so he is now salaried as a professional driver and Williams funded him because they had a deep belief that he was the real deal.
And my reticence came from the fact that prior to that it’s difficult to really judge him, but I have to say that now he’s been in the car and I have the ability to look at his data, he is here on merit and as a result of Williams investing correctly in him.
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