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Fowles recalls a strange discovery at the Williams factory

Fowles recalls a strange discovery at the Williams factory

( – Williams team principal James Vowles knows that the Grove team still has a long way to go before it can compete for the top positions in Formula 1 again. He expects to see only more sustainable improvements from 2025 onwards, before the team makes a big leap the following year.

Williams team boss James Vowles couldn't believe his eyes

Ultimately, the changes and investments that began with Vowles' appointment at the helm of the team at the start of 2023 must first be consolidated before they can impact the car's performance.

This includes a revised structure of the engineering department under new Technical Director Pat Fry and improved facilities at the Grove.

In conversation with Fowles recalls a tour of the Williams factory shortly before the last summer holiday, during which he discovered a Ming dynasty engraving machine that was the size of a mobile home – comparable to what Fowles knew from his time at Mercedes.

“I walked around the plant with Fred (Frédéric Brosseau, CEO) and looked at the changes we were going to make in terms of facilities, not people,” says Fowles.

“We were looking at some machines. Then I noticed a machine I'd never seen before. It was an engraving machine. Fred came over and said, 'This is from the Ming Dynasty, just so you know!'

“I said, 'Oh, that's great, that's good to know!' “This machine is as long as our mobile home. It's usually the size of a table. So this is just an example of something I've never encountered before. What I meant by that is that we continue to learn where we need to make progress.”

In the High Performance Podcast Vowles also recently spoke about the early days of his tenure at Williams, suggesting that the Grove-based team could beat eight-time constructors' champion Mercedes at one thing.

“At first, it was about knowing our strengths and weaknesses,” Fowles said of his first few weeks on the job. “Every organization has strengths and weaknesses. There are elements here that are stronger than at Mercedes.”

“One is the passion that drives this team. There is still a family behind this team and I love that,” enthused the Williams team boss.