At the beginning of the 2023 season, James Vowles transitioned from his senior position at Mercedes to assume the role of Team Principal at Williams. Upon departing Mercedes at the end of the 2022 season, James Vowles, now Team Principal at Williams, has shared the advice Toto Wolff offered him during the transition to the back marker team. Vowles played a key role in Mercedes’ historic streak of eight Constructors’ Championships and seven Drivers’ Championships from 2014 to 2021.
Interestingly, Wolff had also been associated with Williams before assuming a leadership role at Mercedes.
“I think he said ‘Don’t be s**t’ was his advice! Which I’m trying to do…
“Other than that, he knows that I’ve been preparing for this for quite a while, so there was little he could provide for me above it.”Even today, I would say Fred (Vasseur) and Otmar (Szafnaeur) before he left and a few others were guiding voices. I can happily call them, even though they are adversaries, not ask for advice but they can give me guidance.” Now a rival, Vowles shared advice from Wolff during an interview with the High Performance podcast.
Vowles explained his journey of advancement within Mercedes, gradually reaching his current high-level position. Along the way, Wolff provided valuable guidance on effective team leadership as Vowles continued to progress.
Vowles further elaborated “Toto was kind enough with his time to give me as much experience as he could, he knew where he was forming me towards. It doesn’t mean that I had a job within Mercedes to be Team Principal there, but he provided me his time and knowledge and experience and more responsibilities,”
“That started happening, so simulator drivers, then race drivers, started to come beneath me and I started working with our Formula E outfit, GT3 team, elements of the cost cap and other bits. I just kept pulling it in.
“Of course you can’t do it all at once, so what I did was build a team that did all the strategy bits for me so I could focus on the growth. Once you’ve based yourself out of engineering and focused on how the company runs, you have a better idea of how to step into this role.”