James Vowles’ Williams move accused of having a ‘Mercedes element’

James Vowles has left his role as Mercedes strategic director to become Williams team principal.

It was a shock to the paddock when Williams announced that their team principal Jost Capito had departed the team at the end of last season, with many believing that the German had done a reasonable job in charge of the team.

Since then, Capito has revealed that the plan was never for him to spend a long time in the role, insisting that the time was right for Williams to hunt for someone who could stay in the role for an extended period of time.

Williams eventually settled on Mercedes strategic director James Vowles, who has now left the Silver Arrows having been with the team ever since they entered Formula 1.

Both parties have denied any rumours that the move is part of a plan to bring the two teams closer together, with Williams already being an engine customer of Mercedes.

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Sky Sports pundit Karun Chandhok has suggested that they must be some Mercedes element behind the move, with Vowles’ transfer being a lot smoother of a process than many would have expected.

“I think it caught most of the paddock by surprise,” he told Sky Sports F1.

“I do wonder whether there’s some Mercedes element to this deal, because it’s very rare that you find someone certainly in a senior position of a team move across with zero gardening leave, and James has done that, so clearly a very amicable thing.

“I mean, to the point of which I think Mercedes, basically, were orchestrating the press announcement in some ways, certainly liaising with the media.”

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Vowles’ move to Williams has raised some alarm bells, with fans suggesting that the loss of such a major part of the Mercedes team only weeks before the start of the season could cause a huge problem.

Team principal Toto Wolff has explained that the strategy team working below Vowles have had an increased responsibility in recent seasons, meaning that they are more than capable of stepping up in the absence of their boss.

The Austrian has wished Vowles well in his new role, claiming that his natural progression to become a team principal was blocked at Mercedes, making a move elsewhere the best possible option.