Williams’ bold 2024 leap: Why it’s too soon for panic

James Vowles, the new-in-2023 Williams team boss, is urging fans and critics alike to hold off on passing judgment on the team’s 2024 season prospects, despite a shaky start ahead of pre-season testing in Bahrain. Williams, which introduced its car last and skipped an earlier-planned ‘shakedown’ rumoured to be because of a last-minute design pivot away from the current Mercedes rear suspension setup, sparked concerns over its reliability and speed after the opening day of testing.

Driver Alex Albon provided a mixed review of the car’s initial outing, noting, “Basically it’s too early to say much, but it’s clear that it is free from a number of shortcomings characteristic of last year’s car. But it seems that some others have appeared.” This observation has led to murmurs about the team’s strategic direction and technological choices.

However, Vowles, leveraging his vast engineering experience from Mercedes, is looking beyond immediate results. In his conversation with RTBF in Bahrain, he outlined his vision for Williams, emphasizing a transformative approach rather than a fixed target in the standings. “Our objective for 2024 is not a certain position in the championship,” he clarified. “It’s rather the outside view of the team. We want people to say ‘Ah yes, there is change’. We obviously want results but our goal is to revive this team so that we will be well set up in the future.”

Vowles, 44, is realistic about the timeline for Williams’ revival, acknowledging the need for continued evolution within the team. “We still have to change a lot of things but that cannot be done over a year or three. I am very proud of our car for this year. It is really different in comparison to previous years. There have been a lot of technical changes. In terms of performance, we’ll find out over these next days.”

The departure of Lewis Hamilton from Mercedes also came up, with Vowles – a former colleague from his days at Brackley – providing his perspective on the move. “For the sport and Ferrari it is very good, but we have to look long term, not only 2025 but also 2026-2027. So it allows Mercedes to create another future from the inside. I think it’s a very good change for everyone except Mercedes in the next two years,” he said, smiling.

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