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James Vowles

Vowles puts Hamilton ahead of Schumacher in F1 greats

The Williams Team Principal worked at Mercedes during their period of dominance between 2014 and 2021, and rates Lewis Hamilton above Michael Schumacher.

Vowles Hamilton
To news overview © XPBimages

Williams Team Principal, James Vowles, has ranked Lewis Hamilton ahead of Michael Schumacher during his time at Mercedes.

Vowles was Chief Strategest at Mercedes during their dominant period at the start of the hybrid era in 2014, through to their to their eighth Constructors' Championship in 2021.

He also worked with Schumacher on his three-year return from 2010, when the seven-time World Champion took just one podium at the 2012 European Grand Prix.

Vowles believes Hamilton is the most "naturally talented" driver he has worked with, offering insight into how his mindset changed while at Mercedes when speaking to the High Performance podcast.

"I struggle to find another sport similar to this where it's a team sport, but it starts by beating your teammate. If you don't beat your teammate, you're in trouble - but that's just one fight. The key behind it is how everyone contributes to this success," said Vowles.

"With Lewis, he was - and still is today - the most naturally talented driver I've worked with including Michael (Schumacher).

"His mentalty at the time [when he joined the team] was a brilliant one. It was 'I'm going to win every race at all costs' but if you speak to him today, he accepts that it's the second places and third places that win championships.

'Working with the team on the days that you can't win the race will give you far more of a reward than pushing everyone away to win a single race out of it."

Vowles explains 'role' in creating 'Rules of Engagment' at Mercedes

During Mercedes period of dominance between 2014 and 2016, there was a big rift between teammates and old karting rivals Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

This came to a head in 2016, when the pair collided on the opening lap of the Spanish GP leading to both retiring on the spot. Vowles says the moment still sticks in his mind today.

"Everyone will remember 2016 in Barcelona. It still sticks in my mind today, because you're taking two of these sportsman who are just constrained in their boxes and got frustrated," explained Vowles.

Vowles revealed that he constructed a 'Rules of Engagment' book, which laid out for both drivers how they would maintain their sportsmanship in the heated title battle.

"Both of the drivers in 2014, Nico [Rosberg] and Lewis [Hamilton], knew it was going to be one of those two winning the year. They knew before we turned the first wheel at the first race," explained Vowles.

"I constructed a document which created some very clear 'How we are going to work with each other, how we will fight each other' and at the time it was called 'Rules of Engagment' but changed to something less military further down the line.

"That whole first page was about being a sportsman. To explain it, you can win a world champinship but if you've done something unsportsmanlike, you will regret it for the rest of your life. It will be sullied, it won't be pure. We want to win things by doing things better than everyone else.

"Michael was an incredible man, but he's still marred by 1997. I didn't want to be remembered like that, I wanted to be remembered for being dominant. Within these rules, the fastest driver over 20 races will win and we'll give you each equal opportunties. And they bought into it."

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