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James Vowles

Williams take 'slap in the face' as extent of bleak condition revealed

Williams team principal James Vowles has voiced discontent at his team's current plight, underlining its need to improve in all areas if it is to fight at the front of F1.

Vowles
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James Vowles has voiced his dissatisfaction with the current levels Williams is operating at, as he strives to drag the sleeping giant back up the F1 grid.

The team principal of the Grove-based outfit is using discontent to fuel the continuous improvement he desires from the team, which has not won a title in F1 since 1997. It has not won a race since Pastor Maldonado's improbable victory at the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix.

The 44-year-old's most recent comments come following news that the FW46 is overweight to the extent it is costing Williams in excess of four-tenths of a second per lap.

"There is not one area of this company that I am happy we are at the level required so we can fight for a championship. Not one," Vowles explained to Motorsport.com.

"That's a bold statement, but a truthful statement of it as well. Weight is the one that everyone out here will understand now why we're saying we're on the right path, but we've got a lot of things we need to address and fix. 

"I've said from the beginning, we're open about it. We're going to be here and take you on the journey of what we're doing and why it's so difficult, and why Formula 1 is exceptional. But we will get there. Weight is just the one that's slapping us on the face today, but that's not the main issue."

'I don't believe anyone can hit' the minimum weight limit

Having spent much of the past half-decade at the back of the F1 field, Williams enjoyed a partial revival under Vowles last term. Bolstered by Alexander Albon's strong form, the team scored 28 points en route to seventh in the constructors' standings.

However, after a change in car philosophy over the winter, the team has started 2024 on the back foot. A string of damaging crashes put development on the back burner as Williams struggled to produced a third chassis - necessitating Logan Sargeant missing the Australian Grand Prix. 

That has left the team behind on its targets, and crucially, with an overweight and slower car than anticipated. The team did not score points until the most recent round, in Monaco. Despite this, Vowles is confident for the future, with his aim fixed on the 2026 regulations cycle.

The 44-year-old contends that whilst things will have improved at Williams by that point, he does not feel the weight targets are unrealistic for any team.

"I think by 2026 [Williams will] be in a sensible place [with car weight]," he said. "But even then, '26 has very interesting regulations at the moment that reward weight in a way that no other championship has, because it's such a low number. I don't believe anyone can hit that."

"That's on the side. But even beyond there, we need to make sure that we have a car that you can continually add downforce to in the wind tunnel at the right rate, so it's a competitive level. That's got to be what you want."

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In the latest episode of the RacingNews365.com podcast, join Ian Parkes, Sam Coop and Nick Golding as they look ahead to the Canadian Grand Prix, Red Bull's struggles potentially continuing and the news that Esteban Ocon will leave Alpine at the end of 2024.

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RESULTS 2024 F1 Spanish Grand Prix - Qualifying