Vowles: Williams focus is returning to the front, not finishing 7th

Alex Albon for Williams

James Vowles is clear about the objectives at Williams, emphasising that finishing position in 2023 isn’t the priority.

Williams is currently 7th in the Championship, an impressive position for the Grove-based team. In the context of their difficulties in recent times, this would be a season-best finish since the 2017 season.

To emphasise how much time has passed, Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll were the team’s driver pairing when they last finished 7th in the standings.

Since then, there has been a significant rebuilding process at the British outfit. Years of non-existent financial investment disadvantaged Williams compared to their F1 rivals. This is especially true given the construction of new facilities at McLaren and Aston Martin.

Despite this gap, James Vowles is putting together an impressive debut campaign with the team. Alex Albon is scoring points relatively regularly, with the FW45 competitive at several different circuits.

In the recent past, Williams relied on performing at specific tracks (i.e. Monza) that reward their efficiency. This year, the technical team at Grove has established a foundation that can compete at a variety of circuits.

Up until now, this has been enough for 7th in the standings. However, this might not last when the chequered flag falls in Abu Dhabi, with AlphaTauri rapidly progressing up the field in recent events.

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Vowles thinking bigger picture

Whilst this battle is important to Williams, James Vowles makes clear where his priorities are:

“Our journey is not about whether we come 7th or 8th in 2023. It is about how we can get back to the top with the team.

“You can’t throw everything into one pot and hope it’s successful. 

“We want to take a step forward in 2024, but we also want to take a step forward in 2025 and 2026.

“That will take time, and will mean a transition. I’d rather invest in everything in that at, the expense of the upgrades this year.”

When analysing the British outfit’s 2023 campaign, there are certainly areas to critique. In terms of their points haul, Alex Albon is responsible for 96% of the team’s total – something which must change next season.

Logan Sargeant continues to receive support from the team and is likely to earn a 2024 contract. Regardless of whether he can develop into a meaningful contributor next year, James Vowles seems to be approaching the battle with AlphaTauri pragmatically.

The next few years will provide an intriguing insight into how far Vowles can push Williams.