Toto Wolff admits he was blindsided by James Vowles

After over a month of searching, Williams appointed James Vowles as their new team principal.

While Mattia Binotto’s resignation from Ferrari started a domino effect of team principal moves in the paddock, Jost Capito’s departure from Williams took everybody by surprise.

The announcement that their team principal would be leaving came in December and it took until late January for Williams to finally appoint a replacement.

The man that has replaced Capito in charge of Williams is James Vowles, Mercedes former strategic director, who had been with the team since they entered the sport in 2010.

Losing such a key member of staff only weeks before the start of pre-season testing will have come as a major blow to the Silver Arrows, and team principal Toto Wolff has admitted that Vowles’ move was unexpected.

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“It came as a surprise,” said the Mercedes boss to Speed Week.

“Having said that, he is someone who always had this sort of goal in mind, and here [at Mercedes] such a promotion is currently blocked by me.

“James is a very intelligent and rational player, so we let him out of the contract. It’s good for Formula 1 as a whole if a man like that makes decisions at Williams.”

Wolff has suggested that the departure of his strategic director will not have a massive impact on the team this season, as the whole strategy team below Vowles have been working more independently in preparation for his possible departure.

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The Austrian explained that he empowers his staff and gives them the appropriate responsibility, showing that he has faith in all of his departments to do their jobs at the highest standard.

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Vowles’ move to Williams will be of no threat to Mercedes however, as the team are struggling to get off the bottom of the championship, while Mercedes are looking to return to winning ways in 2023.

With Alex Albon and the exciting Logan Sargeant in the Williams cars this season, the future looks exciting for the team with Vowles at the helm.

With the financial situation at the team also improving, there is real belief building around Williams that they can become a midfield team once again in 2023, rather than languishing at the back of the grid.