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James Vowles

Vowles reveals Wolff advice after becoming Williams Team Principal

James Vowles left his senior role at Mercedes to become Team Principal at Williams at the start of the 2023 season.

Vowles Wolff
To news overview © XPBimages

Williams Team Principal James Vowles has revealed the piece of advice that Toto Wolff gave him, when he left Mercedes for the back marker team.

Vowles was part of Mercedes during their unprecedented run to eight Constructors' Championships and seven Drivers' Championships between 2014 and 2021.

He left the team at the end of the 2022 season to become Team Principal at Williams, a team that Wolff was involved in before he became a leader at Mercedes.

Having now become one of his rivals, Vowles revealed the piece of advice that Wolff gave him when speaking to the High Performance podcast: "I think he said 'Don't be s**t' was his advice! Which I'm trying to do...

"Other than that, he knows that I've been forming for this for quite a while, so there was little he could provide for me above it.

"Even today, I would say Fred (Vasseur) and Otmar (Szafnaeur) before he left and a few others were guiding voices. I can happily call them, even though they are adversaries, not ask for advice but they can give me guidance."

Vowles: He provided me with his knowledge

Vowles described how he eventually worked his way up within Mercedes to get to his high level, with Wolff also offering more constructive advice on how to lead a team as he progressed.

"Toto was kind enough with his time to give me as much experience as he could, he knew where he was forming me towards. It doesn't mean that I had a job within Mercedes to be Team Principal there, but he provided me his time and knowledge and experience and more responsibilities," explained Vowles.

"That started happening, so simulator drivers, then race drivers, start to come beneath me and I started working with our Formula E outfit, GT3 team, elements of the cost cap and other bits. I just kept pulling it in.

"Of course you can't do it all at once, so what I did was built a team that did all the strategy bits for me so I could focus on the growth. Once you've based yourself out of engineering and focused on how the company runs, you have a better idea of how to step into this role."

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