JANUARY 27, 2023
Losing Vowles to Williams a surprise says Wolff
Mercedes decided to release James Vowles from his contract so that the well-known strategy chief could become Williams' new team boss from 2023.
Initially, some believed Toto Wolff had played a smart strategic move by loaning Vowles to Mercedes-powered Williams to strengthen the teams' political and technical collaborations.
However, Wolff admits that losing Vowles was actually "a surprise".
"It came as a surprise," said the Mercedes team boss at the Kitzbuhel world cup skiing event in Austria.
Also in Kitzbuhel are Formula CEO Stefano Domenicali and new Sauber CEO Andreas Seidl.
"Kitzbuhel is like Monaco or the Super Bowl," said Wolff. "It doesn't get much better than that.
"The affinity between motorsport and skiing has always been there - it's all about going fast. That's why half the car industry and motorsport are always on site here."
He admits that various "meetings" take place over the course of the event, but insisted: "It's not like we're going to turn the world upside down because of that."
However, Wolff admitted that Vowles asking to be released so he could replace the ousted Jost Capito as Williams boss "came as quite a surprise".
"Having said that," he told Speed Week, "he is someone who always had this sort of goal in mind, and here (at Mercedes) such a promotion is currently blocked by me.
"James is a very intelligent and rational player, so we let him out of the contract. It's good for Formula 1 as a whole if a man like that makes decisions at Williams."