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Vowles and Fry in Williams vow after culture shock 'on Day 2'

The Williams Team Principal and his new Chief Technical Officer have laid bare just how bad things were for the team and how they've begun the process of change.

Albon Bahrain 2024
To news overview © XPBimages

Since he assumed the helm of Williams as Team Principal in February 2023, James Vowles has often spoken of the major deficiencies at the team, both in terms of processes and infrastructure.

He managed to secure extra CapEx funding to improve the facilities and equipment on-site at Grove and managed to secure the services of Pat Fry to come aboard from Alpine as his Chief Technical Officer.

Between them, Vowles and Fry have worked with the likes of Michael Schumacher, Mika Hakkinen, Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and Jenson Button. That's 20 world titles between them. There is not a lot either would not have seen in a combined nearly 60 years in Grand Prix racing.

But the pair have laid bare the scale of the problems faced at Williams during the car build, with Vowles describing how he knew on just his second day in the job in 2023 the problems he was facing whilst Fry described how a "huge bow wave of a mountain of parts" was created in the backlog.

Vowles knew 'on Day 2'

"Last year, when I came into the team, it was already February 20, the car was already a physical entity,” Vowles told media including RacingNews365.

"And so, what I was able to see was more the update in the year, which is very lightweight compared to a build.

“A build is 20,000 bits coming together within two weeks. An update is occasionally a large update, but it's a floor, front wing, rear wing, whatever it may be, and it's more controlled. There were absolute signs of problems there, but not to the extent of the winter.

"I knew on Day 2 really when I walked through the door how difficult this was going to be, because it doesn't take long to walk around Williams before you realise there's very little compared to what I was used to.

"I just don't mean in terms of facilities and buildings, but even processes and data, there wasn't even data on how much a component cost.

"There wasn't even data on how long it took to make the component or how many components are in the system to be built, and so once you are missing that level of data, it is very easy to understand how you don't understand where 20,000 bits are in the company, or how they're going to come together or how long they will take to be built and developed.

"So I knew very quickly, and I think it is fair to say that very quickly from when you walk through the door, it is very apparent.

"But what I didn't know, though, is how do we make up for that - and unfortunately, it is through humans pushing themselves to the absolute limit is how we make up for it.

"That is why we can never go through this ever again."

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

'Viciously expensive'

"The way we go about making a car is quite different from what I would call 'normal'," Fry explained when questioned by RacingNews365.

"It is not very efficient and everything is massively late, which if you are leaving things late for a reason - I mean I am used to having lots of stuff early that is not performance and the floor as late as possible because that is your biggest aero thing, and because of the cost cap, you are only going to make one anyway and the one at the test is the one at the race.

"But where we just have everything, I've never seen anything like it and don't want to live it again - and I am sure James doesn't want to either.

"It hurts you in a number of ways, because compared to what I am used to, we've issued all the aero surfaces quite early, yet still struggling to get them out because is there in that huge bow wave of a mountain of parts that we need to make.

"That is not very cost-efficient, so we ended up hurting ourselves and it is just down to thw way we go about it, the culture we have.

"We've got to think more wisely about optimising all three sets of regulations and you've got to optimise the financial side now as well and you just can't afford not to.

"It's just viciously expensive what we've managed to do [to put solutions in place] - and it is best to avoid it again."

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

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