In an attempt to reverse several seasons of disappointment, Williams recruited Vowles from Mercedes last winter. The move aimed to leverage the potential benefits of the new F1 era to the fullest. However, the advanced technology and high levels of sophistication seen in leading teams have underscored just how much Williams has to catch up.
Dave Robson, Williams’ head of vehicle performance, confirms that while Vowles has established a clear roadmap for the team’s recovery, the estimated timescales may be longer than what they initially predicted.
“I fully trust his actions,” Robson remarked. “The timeline for realizing tangible progress could possibly stretch beyond ’24. His understanding of the true cutting edge in F1 has been extremely revealing. However, it also implies that we have a mountain of work ahead, probably more than we initially realized. We’ve set the correct actions in motion, but these measures will take time to bear fruit.”
Despite the challenges, Williams has shown notable progress in performance this year, even managing to compete for points. Nevertheless, their current FW45 still lacks the downforce that rivals possess, indicating a need for significant improvements.
Understanding that they must enhance their current package, the team is also focused on a more considerable leap forward in 2024.
When questioned about whether the primary focus was on next year’s car or enhancing their current model, Robson answered: “It’s a bit of both. While these aspects are not entirely synonymous, they are related. We must understand our car’s weaknesses and ensure that any upgrades we introduce this year align with our expectations and contribute to the significant changes expected next year.”
Robson maintained that the most beneficial take-away for the team this year would be to understand their current setup and what they need to do to improve.
“The learning is still the most critical aspect,” he stressed. “We need to comprehend why the car doesn’t behave as per the drivers’ preferences in certain corners, then take these insights back to the drawing board to understand how we can rectify this. We believe we have a fairly good idea, but implementing it is no simple task.”