Mercedes criticised for letting James Vowles leave as Lewis Hamilton yet to commit

James Vowles will become Williams’ new team principal in February.

The team principals in the paddock last season decided that they wanted to be a part of the infamous ‘silly season’ that usually takes place in F1.

Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, McLaren and Williams were all forced to look for a new boss in quick succession as resignations and replacements started a domino effect in the paddock.

The most shocking move however was at Williams, as Jost Capito seemed to leave his role with the team completely out of the blue, leaving the team who finished in last place in 2022 to hunt for a new team principal.

Williams have finally got their man in the form of Mercedes’ strategic director James Vowles, who has been with the Silver Arrows ever since they joined Formula 1 over a decade ago.

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The Brit has been key to Mercedes’ success in the previous era of F1, making some audacious and intelligent decisions that have given the likes of Lewis Hamilton the upper hand over their rivals in races.

Former F1 driver Vitaly Petrov has now questioned Mercedes for allowing such an important member of staff to leave the team, claiming that it could be impossible to operate without him.

“I don’t understand how they could let him go. It is clear that you can’t always make a person work at the same place forever,” he told Championat.

“There are people who won’t stay even for money because they want to move on and experiment. So you can understand why Vowles went to Williams, but the question is how Mercedes will be without him.

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“But to be without a main strategist is impossible so I’m sure they will have to replace him with someone. Perhaps it won’t be one person but several, but they must replace him with someone.

“It is impossible without a strategist,” he concluded.

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has suggested that his team will be just fine without Vowles, who he has wished well in his new role.

The Austrian has explained that the Silver Arrows have been bracing for a potential departure for a while, making sure that the strategy team can operate without Vowles to the same standard that they did with him.

Only time will tell how Mercedes will fair without such an important member of staff, as the 2023 season quickly approaches with only weeks to go until the cars are launched.