The Grove-based outfit is coming off the back of an encouraging 2023 season where it finished seventh in the constructors’ championship, its best result since 2018.
And with Vowles having only arrived just ahead of the start of the campaign, the true impact of the changes he is making to the organisation are yet to be seen.
One of the early decisions that Vowles made was for the team to switch off development of its 2023 car early, so it could focus more of its effort on this year’s challenger.
And, while that should mean a step forward in areas like downforce, Vowles thinks that extra pace will also be unleashed from improvements in aspects like vehicle dynamics too.
Speaking to Autosport about the 2024 car, Vowles said: “We’ve added downforce, but actually the main thing we’ve been working on is the behaviour and characteristics of the car.
“I think there’s quite an untapped potential in that, so we can move forward. How much is hard to say though.”
Photo by: Williams
James Vowles, Williams Racing Team Principal
With F1’s midfield battle so incredibly tight, Williams knows that making a big jump forward over the winter will be a tough ask.
And Vowles is realistic enough to understand that the most realistic chance his team has of stepping up to the front will come when new car regulations come into play for 2026.
“I’m happy with the work we’re doing, but I bet you if you interview everyone up and down the grid they’ll go: ‘I’m happy with the work we’re doing.’ That normally tells you you’re going to maybe squeak forward a little bit, but that’s about it.
“The big steps really come with regulation change. 2026 will be the first opportunity for us to properly step forward.”
And while Vowles has been able to make some swift changes at the team to address areas of key weakness, he very much believes the focus has to be on where the team will be many years down the road.
“You can get dragged in very quickly to what I call the weeds, where you look at a problem and then start digging through it,” he explained. “But that’s ‘short-termism’, to be honest, because that problem is already the result of other systems that are wrong to start with.
“Pretty much everything we’ve changed is bringing in infrastructure and bringing in people, and it will take a long time before the ripples are felt as a result of it.”