RACE DEBRIEF

    James Vowles admits Williams finishing seventh in the constructors’ championship is better than he expected at the start of the season, as he also reflected on his first year leading the Grove outfit.

    Williams started the 2023 season having finished at the bottom of the constructors’ standings the previous year, after they struggled to get to grips with the new ground effect technical regulations.

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    However, they took a step forward this year as they held off the late surge from AlphaTauri to place seventh. Speaking in Las Vegas last month, Vowles, sat next to Toto Wolff, Fred Vasseur, and Zak Brown, looked back on Williams’ season.

    “I think it’s better than what I was hoping for,” admitted Vowles, when asked if Williams being seventh was the trajectory he expected. “But you have to remember I’m sitting on a sofa alongside people where… we were fighting McLaren in Bahrain and they’re fighting for podiums and wins.

    “We have the top four in the championship all lined-up next to me and that’s the aspiration, to get somewhere there. And the reality behind it is that there are teams this year, McLaren’s one of them, AlphaTauri is another one of them, that are putting huge performance on the car and starting to fight with the giants.

    SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 03: Alexander Albon of Thailand driving the (23) Williams FW45
    Williams finished seventh in the championship an improvement from last in 2022

    “Our aspirations are very clearly to keep moving forward in the way that we have. Now, Williams has gone from not scoring points to, since the summer break, we’ve been scoring at near enough most events – or have the ability to score.

    “So that's a very different circumstance to where we were 12 months ago. But, as I said, our aspiration is to keep moving up the grid, beyond where we are now, and that’s going to take a lot more effort from where we are.”

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    It was Vowles’ first season as Team Principal having left his role as Chief Strategist at Mercedes, and he gave a detailed insight into his experiences at Williams so far. He said: “I’ve had the fortune… It's not because Toto and Fred and Zak are sat here.

    “But I've had the fortune of having people around me that have helped me on this journey, and I learned a lot of things off Toto. Not all of them used, because some of them are pretty rubbish, to be honest. But I learned a lot of things off Toto on this journey.

    BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 05: Mercedes GP Executive Director Toto Wolff talks with James Vowles,
    Vowles revealed how much he learned from Wolff before taking the role at Williams

    “No, I mean, joking aside, Toto really put me under his wing and taught me a lot of things that I had to know and a lot of holes and gaps I still have today. And I have a lot of catching up to do relative to my peers that are experienced in doing this.

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    “It's an environment where hopefully I'm showing the world that I've earned this place and deserve this place. But I have a tremendous amount to do going forward in order to make sure that we show that Williams is really a team that is a serious team wanting to go back to the front.

    “And it's never the work of one person. It just doesn't work that way. It's the work of 1,000 people or 800 people behind the scenes that are doing all the real hard graft that brings you to where you are as an organisation, and our job is just to make sure that we're roughly pointing the right way.”