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James Vowles

Williams explains 'cultural' reason for Pat Fry appointment

The team started the 2023 season without any senior technical leadership, but Team Principal James Vowles is confident they have chosen the right person.

Albon Hungary wet
To news overview © RN365/Michael Potts

Williams Team Principal James Vowles has explained the "cultural" reason behind the appointment of Pat Fry as their Chief Technical Officer.

The team entered the 2023 season in the unusual situation of having no senior technical leadership, after the departure of Francois-Xavier Demaison at the end of the 2022 season with Jost Capito.

Vowles made the search for a Chief Technical Officer and Technical Director a main priority when he joined the team in February, but stressed that it was important to find the right individual.

The team eventually decided on Pat Fry, who was announced to have joined the team from Alpine just hours after the French outfit had parted ways with Otmar Szafnauer and Alan Permane.

Vowles describes the reason behind hiring Fry, when speaking to media, including RacingNews365: "I've never worked with Pat, but I know him very well. I actually knew him back in the Manor days, we had a link between ourselves [Mercedes] and Manor back then.

"What I like about and what I was looking for was the following. I'm very much in belief of behaviours and characteristics. By that I mean, you need to have empowerement, you need to know how to train up the next generation of individuals, how to put the structure in place.

"It's not about blame, it's about fundamentally having a policy that enables failure, as long as you capture it correctly and talk about it. Pat is all of those, he's not political in his nature he just gets on with things and that's what I was looking for."

Vowles: Fry move a sign of cultural change at Williams

Williams has diverted from its 'blame culture' in recent years, having identified that as the main problem for their lack of success in the last decade.

This was an important factor when considering candidates according to Vowles, who is attempting to change the culture at the team as part of their journey to return to the top.

"Not everyone would fit Williams. It really is an organisation that is doing its best to convert and change from where it has been. But there's a long journey in front of us at the moment," said Vowles.

"It's not something I can do by my myself and someone like Pat would be perfect in what he's been used to at McLaren but also Alpine, who were in a difficult state. He's done a good job with that and you do need someone who has knowledge, the willingness and energy."

Vowles points out how big name signings play a key role in changing the perception of Williams for prospective employees: "People saw that I left the comfort of Mercedes to go to Williams, now people have seen Pat [join] at a time when Alpine was in a strong place.

"That's why I wanted it to be clear, this wasn't in the last few weeks, this was a long time ago [he was] wanting to join Williams. People will now understand the team wants a cultural change.

"It's not specifically that, it's more that once you see two very senior people that have been in the sport for 20+ years and winning races and we want to come here, others will now see why it's worth that journey."

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