James Vowles raises suspicions with no-show

James Vowles will start his new job as Williams' team principal on February 20, just three days before pre-season testing begins.

Williams became the third team on Monday to show the world how they’ll be looking in the forthcoming season, after revealing their 2023 livery; however, there was a noticeable absence from the launch.

New team principal James Vowles wasn’t present at the Grove-based outfit’s launch, with the former Mercedes chief strategist not set to start his new job until February 20.

It has been noticed how quick the turnaround is for Vowles from working at Mercedes to Williams, with his ‘gardening leave’ from the Silver Arrows being remarkably short.

This has given ex-F1 driver Karun Chandhok the belief that perhaps Mercedes have something to do with the Vowles deal, given that they are the British side’s power unit supplier.

READ: Mercedes to return to the top with Lewis Hamilton in 2023

“I do wonder if there isn’t some kind of Mercedes element in this deal,” Chandhok said.

“It’s not very common that you don’t send someone in such an important position on gardening leave, so this is clearly an act of kindness,” he smiled.

Whilst Vowles wasn’t at the launch, Williams technical boss Dave Robson was present, with the Brit having been asked several questions about the new boss.

Robson admitted that he hasn’t really spoken to Vowles just yet, but that the entire team is “looking forward” to him joining.

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“I’ve only been able to say hello to him so far,” Robson said.

“But he comes with a lot of experience and is certainly fully motivated. The whole team is looking forward to working with him.

“I think James knows exactly what a team needs to get to the top and stay there. With him, the next stage in the rebuilding of Williams begins.”

Vowles’ big task in his first season as a team principal in general will be to get Williams off the bottom of the Constructors’ Championship, with the historic side having returned to the bottom in 2022.

The winter break has so far been relatively positive for the side, who’s 2023 challenger is an evolution of the car they used last season.

Robson revealed that the initial runs on the simulator have been promising, with it appearing like the team has eliminated some of the issues that they experienced last season.

“The biggest visible change is the shape of the sidepod,” he said.

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“We would have liked to have brought this upgrade to Silverstone last year but we needed to adapt the layout of the radiators.

“The drivers have completed the first runs in the simulator and it seems that we have been able to eliminate some of the negative features of last year’s model,” he is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.

“Now of course we are curious to see if we can see the progress on the track.”