Williams hires James Vowles as F1 team principal

GROVE, United Kingdom (AP) — Struggling Formula One team Williams continued its overhaul Friday by announcing the hiring of former Mercedes strategy director James Vowles as team principal.

Williams said in a statement that Vowles will begin his new role on Feb. 20 ahead of testing in Bahrain from Feb. 23-25. The Bahrain Grand Prix is the first race of the Formula One season on March 5.

Williams has undergone changes after finishing last in the constructors’ standings last season. Former team principal Jost Capito and technical director François-Xavier Demaison both left in December.

The 43-year-old Vowles previously held key engineering roles and helped Mercedes secure the F1 constructors’ championship from 2014-21.

Former F1 powerhouse Williams won the last of its nine constructors’ titles in 1997.

“It’s an honor to join a team with such an incredibly rich heritage. The team is an icon of our sport, one I greatly respect, and I am very much looking forward to the challenge,” Vowles said. “Mercedes have been hugely supportive on my journey, and we part on excellent terms.”

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff thanked Vowles for his commitment to the team over a highly successful period for the Silver Arrows.

“Having worked with him since I first joined the team in 2013, I know how diligent, capable and talented he is,” Wolff said. “While we are naturally sad to be saying goodbye to such a capable member of the team, I have no doubts whatsoever that he has all the necessary skills to become a fantastic team principal in Formula One.”

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