Toto Wolff denies ‘big weakness’ claim

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

Following the conclusion of the 2022 season, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, McLaren and Williams were all forced to hunt for a new team principal.

While Ferrari and McLaren managed to fill their vacancy within a couple of weeks, it has taken until the turn of the year for Williams and Alfa Romeo to address their voids.

Williams have recently replaced Jost Capito with Mercedes’ strategic director James Vowles, with the Brit set to take full control before pre-season testing begins in a few weeks’ time.

The Silver Arrows have had their decision to allow such a key member of staff to leave only weeks before the start of the season questioned, with Vowles stepping up in recent weeks to be in charge of responsibilities such as contract renewals.

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Vowles has been with Mercedes ever since they entered Formula 1 in 2010 but team principal Toto Wolff does not believe that any gap has been left by the 43-year-old’s departure.

“As an organisation, you have to always be prepared that you could lose members,” he said via

“We’ve had it many times where people stepped up and they leave an open position behind them or they join another team, and for me, it’s only proof that we are developing and working with capable people.

“There is no gap left behind and for many years we’ve discussed the succession planning in this area, and we’ve been very reliant on James’ ability and we put emphasis in a few years ago on how that would continue if he would decide to do something else within Mercedes or outside.

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“I feel very comfortable with the infrastructure going forward, and not that a big weakness has suddenly been created.”

Wolff has wished Vowles the best in his new role with Williams, claiming that becoming a team principal was the natural progression for his former strategic director.

Believing that he still has a lot to offer in F1, it was not yet time for Wolff to step aside at Mercedes and allow Vowles to progress, meaning a move to Williams came as the perfect opportunity for the Brit to realise his potential.