Christian Horner claims Williams agreed Mercedes deal for ‘early release’

Williams have signed former Mercedes chief strategist James Vowles to fill the vacant team principal role left by Jost Capito.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has shared his views on Ferrari’s and Williams’ new team principals, with both sides having been extremely busy over the winter break.

Ferrari, of course, signed former Alfa Romeo boss Frederic Vasseur to replace Mattia Binotto, who announced following the conclusion of the 2022 season that he’d be resigning from the Scuderia.

Binotto’s departure from Ferrari meant he was leaving the company that he started working for in 1995, something that Horner believes must have been “tough” for the Italian to come to terms with.

Horner has seen several Ferrari team principals come and go over the years, with the Red Bull boss being the longest-serving team principal on the grid, having held his role since 2005.

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Binotto, though, arguably pushed him harder than most Ferrari bosses, given the Maranello-based team’s return to the front in 2022.

Whether Vasseur can take Ferrari to the next level under his leadership remains to be seen, with Horner certainly interested to see what he asks for at the next F1 Commission meeting.

Horner labelled Vasseur has “very capable” but couldn’t hide the fact that he felt “sympathy” for Binotto, given the way he’s been treated by Ferrari’s hierarchy.

“It has been interesting to watch the movement,” Horner told Motor Sport Magazine.

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“I’ve sympathy for Mattia, because ultimately he’d done a good job. Last year, that was a big step forward from where they had been, so that must be tough for him after such long service that he had given to Ferrari.

“Fred, it’ll be interesting to see if he’s still arguing about the same points that he was for Sauber in upcoming meetings! But again, he’s a very capable guy.

“So yeah, it’ll be very interesting. I’m sure they’re all very capable people. So we’ll get to see what the dynamics are at the next Formula 1 Commission meeting.”

At the back of the grid, Williams have signed Mercedes chief strategist James Vowles to replace Jost Capito, who left the team principal role at the end of last season.

It marks a big “step up” for Vowles; however, Horner has praised Williams for giving someone new a “chance” in the team principal role, something the Austrians boss believes “can only be good news for Williams”.

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“I don’t know James particularly well, but he’s obviously a very capable guy,” Horner explained.

“Williams will have done their due diligence and research and I think it’s great that they’re giving him the chance to make that step up. So I think that can only be good news for Williams.

“And is there anything attached to that? Williams would have obviously done what’s right for them and right for their business. But only they will know what has been agreed for that early release to have happened.”