James Vowles, the chief strategist known for his iconic line "Valtteri, it's James" during Mercedes races, has left the team after 13 successful years. Vowles joined Brawn GP in 2009 and helped the team win titles before Mercedes acquired the team the following year.
He remained in the same position and played a vital role in the German team's numerous titles. Vowles became a fan favorite for his frequent interruptions of Valtteri Bottas' conversations with his race engineer, in order to make way for Lewis Hamilton to win titles.
However, Vowles has now accepted an offer to become the head of the Williams team. The loss of Vowles is not ideal for Mercedes, who had their worst season in almost a decade last year, winning only one race. However, Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff believes that the team has sufficient strength in depth, stating, "One of the successes in our team has been planning succession.
We have been very reliant on James’s ability and a few years ago we put an emphasis on how that would continue if he decided to do something else. James has been very good in setting that up. We have an extremely talented group of strategists."
Vowles joins a Williams
Vowles joins a Williams team who have finished last in four of the past five seasons despite their successful heritage, with nine constructors’ titles and seven drivers’ championships between 1980 and 1997.
The task in front of Vowles is huge, but he is eager to begin, saying, “Perhaps I am being carried away with the excitement of wanting to start this. It’s not trepidation, I am waking up every morning at 5am and scribbling down thoughts and notes.
That’s a level of motivation that is going to keep me going for years and years, I am confident of that”. Lewis Hamilton, who has worked closely with Vowles, expressed his excitement for Vowles' new opportunity, telling Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff, “That’s amazing for James”.
The voice of the 43-year-old Briton will certainly be missed by many in the Formula 1 community. Now, Vowles will have to worry about much more than strategy as he begins his new role and develops a new relationship with Williams drivers Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant.