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Williams tackle engine fears triggered by Honda return

Williams Team Principal James Vowles has assessed the limitations of running a customer engine.

James Vowles
To news overview © XPBimages

Williams Team Principal James Vowles has conceded remaining a customer engine could leave the team on the back foot under F1's new power unit regulations set for introduction in 2026.

But Vowles has pointed to Aston Martin's competitiveness in the early stages of the campaign as a ray of hope for teams not under a works deal with a manufacturer.

Honda's confirmed return with Aston Martin from 2026 ensures the Japanese manufacturer joins Alpine, Red Bull-Ford, Ferrari, Mercedes and Audi on the grid.

That leaves only AlphaTauri, Williams, Haas and McLaren as teams set to take on customer engines as Alfa Romeo joins Aston Martin in entering a works partnership.


On whether Williams would now be at a disadvantage, Vowles - who made the switch from Mercedes over the winter - told media, including RacingNews365.com: "I've experienced both now over the last six months.

"The closer you are linked with your engine manufacturer, the more you can do the layout of the back of the car the way you need it to be, so your compromise between aerodynamic cooling, performance versus power generation, that compromise can be set by yourself, and you understand all of the targets.

"Clearly in a relationship, and we are a customer with Mercedes, that's a lot more difficult. However, there are regulations in place now, that are very good, that mean that the power unit we're being supplied is the same power unit as elsewhere. That wasn't the case many years ago.

"So I have confidence at least that the power it's generating is good. Now we're into the integration side and where we are. We're still in a situation where we take the gearbox, so effectively the casing, the cassette, from Mercedes, and that means that the integration for a lot of it has already been thought about and done to a certain extent."

Using Aston Martin for optimism, Vowles added: "The real question is, can you, with that package, be competitive, fighting for a world championship? I think what Aston has shown you is that you can take that and you can run with it, albeit Aston is going their own way.

"But I don't think it limits you necessarily in a stable set of regulations. I think on that… the first get-go into 2026, potentially there it becomes a little bit difficult, but the learning will kick in shortly after that."

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RESULTS 2024 F1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix - Qualifying