James Vowles dismisses Max Verstappen theory

James Vowles was Mercedes' chief strategist prior to his Williams move, with the Brit having been an integral part of the Germans' dominant spell from 2014-2021.

New Williams team principal James Vowles has rejected any idea that 2023 is going to be a boring year for Formula 1, with Max Verstappen looking set to dominate once again.

After cruising to victory at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, Verstappen has gone on to top all three practice sessions at this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, suggesting that the reigning world champion could be in for another comfortable victory.

Verstappen dominating the championship, though, isn’t seen as a reason by Vowles for 2023 to be classed as boring, with the former Mercedes senior figure believing you only need some “odd races” to make a season “exciting”.

“What makes an exciting championship? For me, you need odd races, not necessarily every single race, where there’s competition, and you can’t predict who’s going to win the race, and I think you will see that this season,” Vowles said.

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“As long as, on average at most tracks, you have a fight between two gladiators properly duking it out, rather than what happened in Bahrain, where Verstappen was just cruising, then you’re not damaging the championship at all.

“If we have 20-odd races like that, clearly, it won’t help our championship, but I don’t think that’s what we’re going to have.”

Vowles, of course, has dealt with people labelling a season as boring before, with the Williams boss having been an integral part of Mercedes during their dominant spell.

Despite Mercedes having won eight consecutive constructors’ championships, Vowles doesn’t believe the Silver Arrows were always the best side, with the team principal having labelled 2018 and 2019 as a “scrap”.

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“As much as everyone called it dominance, in 2019, we weren’t leading the championship, it was a scrap, the same in 2018,” Vowles said.

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“In 2016, we did our own really good job of basically trying to throw it away, so you always get stories throughout the season that create what you’re looking for.

“And I’m pretty sure that the scrap you’re going to see behind that is enough that it becomes unpredictable, and a story.

“I just think this year, the camera panning back a little bit to see who else is competing for the podium, you’ll still see some good racing through the field.”