James Vowles, chief strategist for Mercedes, has announced that he will be leaving the team to become Williams’ team principal, replacing Jost Capito. Vowles has been an integral part of Mercedes’ eight consecutive constructors’ championship wins. Mercedes CEO and team principal Toto Wolff has wished Vowles the best in his new role, but not everyone is happy about his departure. However, Helmut Marko, motorsport advisor for Red Bull, has alleged that Vowles’ exit has caused friction in the Mercedes garage.
In an interview with Sport1.de, Marko said:
“My sources tell me that’s why the mood at Mercedes is so tense. Vowles went of his own accord and – so it is said – even takes good engineers with him.”
Despite Vowles’ departure, Marko still sees Mercedes as a major threat to Red Bull’s chances of defending their title in the upcoming 2023 season. Marko said:
“We’ll see. However, I still believe that Mercedes will be our biggest challenger when it comes to defending our title.”
Mercedes has not commented on these rumors and has maintained that there is no tension within the team over Vowles’ exit.
The 2023 season will begin with the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 3rd to 5th, with pre-season testing taking place the week before. The season will consist of a record-breaking 23 races after it was confirmed that the Chinese Grand Prix will not be replaced in April.
Last year, Mercedes struggled while Red Bull dominated, taking the drivers’ and constructors’ championships. Despite Ferrari coming in second in both championships, Marko does not see them as a major threat due to the significant developments the Brackley team was able to make towards the end of the season.