Former f1 champion Damon Hill has backed new Williams team principal James Vowles as the right man for the job, who will succeed in restoring the team to the top of the pile.
Hill won the 1996 drivers world championship with Williams, with Jaques Villeneuve clinching similar success for the squad in the following season, also delivering their ninth constructors championship.
But in recent years the team has fallen into a steep decline, with Pastor Maldonado claiming their most recent Grand Prix win in Spain in 2012.
The 2020 season saw Williams finish bottom of the standings without a single championship point for the first time in its history, with the Williams family selling the operation to Dorilton Capital.
Jost Capito was brought in to run the team, but he left over the winter along with technical director Francois-Xavier Demaison. The responsibility for keeping the team afloat now falls to Vowles, former Mercedes director of strategy
Despite still lacking a senior technical team, Williams has already picked up a championship point thanks to Alex Albon finishing in tenth place in the first race of the season in Bahrain.
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Albon also made it through to the final round of qualifying in Australia and was up to sixth place in the opening eight laps before he suddenly spun after being caught out by a spike in tyre temperatures.
The accident happened right in the path of Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg who admitted afterwards that it had caused a ‘code brown’ moment. “That was seriously scary. I mean, thank God nothing happened. But it is a nightmare scenario,”
“What happened with Alex is very difficult to explain when you first look at the data,” Vowles subsequently told fans on Williams’ official Twitter account.
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“He went through turn five then into turn six slower than he had on the previous lap and yet the rear came round immediately and he lost control of the car,” he explained. “There’s nothing he could have done to correct that.
“He went through [turn five] and actually realised it was a little bit too much speed for that corner and had to lift ever so slightly, but he ran out wide.
“When he ran out wide that rear left tyre was now actually just oscillating on the kerb on exit,” he said. “As he turned into turn six, he just simply did not have the rear grip that he was expecting to have previously, and that’s what ended his race.”
Despite that disappointment, Hill sees encouraging signs for Williams under its rookie team principal in 2023.
“I listen to him and I think he sounds very like Ross Brawn,” Hill told the most recent edition of the F1 Nation podcast this week.
“[He’s] got such a lot of knowledge from Mercedes, the dominant Mercedes team,” he explained. “He will be putting ducks in a row.”
Hill said that Vowles had a “measured way of talking. He never sounds flustered at all, and he’s clear in his own mind as to what he’s doing.
“I think he will sort out [Williams]. I think it’s what Williams have been crying out for for years.”
Vowles himself recently spoke of a positive vibe at the Williams base at Grove. “The best word that I could use is ‘spark’. There’s a spark and it’s fascinating to see; there are shoulders lifted, and there are heads held high now.
“There is direction, they can see where we’re going and how we’re moving forward,” he said last month.
“It’s a team that clearly have had a difficult winter and a difficult few years prior to that, but they can start to see the light at the end of the tunnel and the direction we’re going in.”
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