New Williams team principal James Volls says his experience of “failure” in Formula 1 will help him turn around the team’s chances at the 2022 Constructors’ Championship final.
Despite being one of the most historically successful teams in Formula 1 history, Williams has struggled in recent years. Last year was the fourth time in five seasons.
Volks’ F1 experience at the Brackley factory spanned more than 20 years and was run with varying degrees of success at various tracks – such as British American Racing, Honda and Brawn GP – before switching to Mercedes in 2010.
The Vols will leave Mercedes as the team’s chief strategist to join Williams as the new team principal ahead of the start of the 2023 season. When asked what he believes Williams is doing wrong as a team and how he plans to change them, the Vols said the Dorilton-owned team needs a “culture change” to move up the grid.
“It’s hard to take back what’s wrong, because I haven’t set foot in it and my communication is very limited – I’m still in a transition phase for objective reasons, I think it’s fair to say. Including RaceFans once the appointment is announced,” Volls told the media.
“What [would] It is definitely when you are punished when you are wrong and hurt, when you are pushed and suffer as an organization, unless you make a change, it will not get better year by year. What is going on – a change in culture, a change in methods and systems. And I guess a lot if you go back a few years, we didn’t have the strength of Dorilton.
“Dorilton really wants it and will invest the right amount to make it happen [performing] group. And I think it’s fair to say that I don’t think that was the case a few years ago. Their impact will probably take a while to sink in.
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“Secondly, I am one change, but obviously one individual does not make a difference. What is needed is to re-strengthen the technical team but allow the incredibly good ones on the inside to shine and thrive. And I guess the environment they had around them couldn’t have been one. [conducive] To the same for a while. What makes me different is that I’ve been lucky enough to fail at the level that many of you have seen in public. Even before Mercedes, there were times when we suffered in a very weak position – we didn’t score any points for 12 races.
“The real benefit you get from this is to create a culture where everyone understands, you have to grow, you have to move forward together as a unit and it has to be a collaborative movement. And I strongly suspect that we’re not at the point where that collaboration is going to happen, or where it’s going to happen, because that’s what makes it stronger.” It’s been a pain for a few years.
Volls has been in talks with Williams to take over as team principal after the team announced in December that they would replace former team principal Jost Kapito and technical director Francois-Javier Demaison.
“We all have a relationship in sports, so it wasn’t a completely cold call,” Vols explained. “Both individuals knew.
“From my perspective, the conversation is really just beginning. At first I feel that this is an incredible opportunity and I can add to it. And then really from both sides, both Williams and I, we concluded that the fit was very, very good. After several meetings with the board, we found that our way of working, our way of thinking, our approach to things – culture, people, systems – was incredibly aligned and it was at that point that I brought Toto on board. A conversation to let him know that it was my need and desire.
“Toto’s response was the best I could have hoped for. He was incredibly good at handling this change. Mercedes knows it’s a clear loss. But in a way, because it’s profit. [for] Williams basically, and for myself, this is a big step to end.
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