Vowles praises Hamilton’s Ferrari deal but scotches Albon-to-Mercedes rumour

Formula 1

Posted on

| Written by

Lewis Hamilton’s move to Ferrari for 2025 has been hailed as a positive development for the sport by the strategist behind many of his wins at Mercedes.

James Vowles, now team principal at Williams, worked with the seven-times world champion during all six of his championship-winning seasons with the Silver Arrows.

Following the news that Hamilton had signed a deal to race for Ferrari in 2025 despite signing a two-year contract extension with Mercedes towards the end of last year, Vowles admitted he had not been expecting the news.

“The timing came as a surprise to me,” he told media including RaceFans. “His want and desire to be in a Ferrari at some point in his career? No.

“I think most world champions have either been there or have a desire to be there, because it’s a force of nature. It is still the most successful team in Formula 1 – Williams is the second-most successful team in Formula 1 – and that can’t be ignored. It’s the hardest thing you do, for every human in the world, to move from where you’re comfortable to where you’re not challenges you and pushes you to the limit – and that’s Lewis all over.

“So the fact he’s doing it, I actually think it’s good for the sport. It’ll be good for Lewis, because he’ll learn from it and he’ll challenge himself.”

Despite his former team losing their most successful driver ever, Vowles is confident Mercedes will not be too negatively affected his departure.

“It’s not good for Mercedes in the short-term, but actually, I think you’re going to see they’re going to be absolutely fine on where they get to on drivers and they will come back stronger as a result,” he said. “So ultimately it’s a good thing all round in time.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Hamilton’s impending departure from Mercedes has prompted speculation over who will replace him next season, with Williams driver Alexander Albon touted as a potential replacement. However, Vowles insisted that his most experienced driver remains under contract with the team.

“Alex is signed in Williams until the end of 2025,” he said. “That’s signed. It’s not something I’ve been very public about, because I don’t feel the need to. So any reports that you’re seeing – and there’s one in particular – that individual is speculating at best.

“As I’ve also said publicly, it is our job at Williams to create an environment that deserves someone of the calibre of Alex. Simple as that. I’ve said that from the beginning and I still maintain that. He is an incredible driver who deserves his place towards the front. He did drives last year that I’ve already commented are no different to some of the other champions I’ve worked with. He kept half the field behind in one race and we put him in difficult positions and he overcame that to score points.”

Vowles says he would weigh any approach from a rival team for Albon against the interests of Williams.

“He and I have good chats about where we want to move forward and we want to have our journey together in this team for a long time,” he said. “We have to earn that right. It’s not given, by any stretch of imagination, nor should it be, for that matter.

“It’s back to the original question we have to demonstrate to the world that we’re not the Williams of old, we’re not moving backwards, we’re moving forward continuously. Hopefully that provides clarity.

“For the situation with Alex, would I stand in his way? I have the responsibility of Williams on my shoulder – that’s the most important thing to me. It’s not the responsibility towards one individual – in this case, Alex – this responsibility is towards the team. So should any decision go that way, it’s because I’m very clear in my mind that I’ve made decisions that are correct for the team’s long-term goals.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Formula 1

Browse all Formula 1 articles

Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

10 comments on “Vowles praises Hamilton’s Ferrari deal but scotches Albon-to-Mercedes rumour”

  1. he would weigh any approach from a rival team for Albon against the interests of Williams

    Here comes the money, money money money…

    I think it would be a mistake from all parties, Russell would have to fight against Albon, rather than focusing on developing the car for him to be able to perform optimally. Albon would potentially kill his career if he loses that fight, Mercedes have no shortage of replacements for him, Red Bull can be chalked up to inexperience and mental health or whatever, but if it happens twice, it’s game over red rover. And for Williams they could be losing a stable journeyman that as they say is an excellent performer and could be a champion, think how Webber at Red Bull was that stable element that helped them develop their car.

    These things can happen, it takes time, jumping from ship to ship whatever is the performer of the day isn’t always the right answer or what should be looked for.

    Just 2 cents.

    1. Albon would potentially kill his career if he loses that fight, [vs Russell]

      Not sure about that. I do not think that top teams currently consider him a potential lead driver.

      If he does not rock the boat, at worst he would be a regular points scorer with maybe some podiums and the odd win.
      This is more than what he can likely achieve at Williams.

      If he manages to beat Russell, he will be regarded as a potential team leader. This would put him in contention for any competitive drive, even if Mercedes falters.

      I see no downsides for Albon.

  2. Mercedes bought out Bottas when Nico retired, so if they think Albion is the right one then they’ll do the same again.
    In the end it all comes down to money.

  3. 2025 might only be optional & even otherwise, contracts are always terminatable anyway, especially with mutual agreement.
    Nevertheless, I still view Albon as Hamilton’s most likely successor or at least Mercedes’ first choice.

    1. Stephen C Taylor
      6th February 2024, 11:05

      I slightly disagree I think Antonelli is seen Hamilton’s long term likely sucessor by Mercedes. Albon would merely be stop gap/second driver. If signed Albon would then have to fight it out with Russell to see who would likely partner Antonelli in 2026.

    2. Alex is signed until the end of 2025

      So was Hamilton.

  4. Doe’s Albon’s ex-con Mother still manage him?

    1. Stephen C Taylor
      6th February 2024, 20:59


  5. Peter Windsor mentioned on his livestream the other day that he was 90% sure Albon had already signed with Red Bull to partner with Max for 2025 onwards.

  6. Stephen Taylor
    6th February 2024, 20:57

    He was talking rubbish.

Comments are closed.