JANUARY 23, 2023
Impossible to not replace Vowles says Petrov
Former F1 driver Vitaly Petrov is shocked that Mercedes allowed its strategy boss James Vowles to become Williams' new team principal.
While some initially wondered if the strategy is to turn Williams into a Mercedes 'B team', others suspect Mercedes will in fact be significantly weakened by Vowles' departure.
When asked about Mercedes' chances of launching a return to championship contention in 2023, Russia's first Formula 1 driver Petrov said: "Everything will depend on how Mercedes solves the problems with the car and who replaces James Vowles.
"I don't understand how they could let him go," he told the Russian source Championat. "It is clear that you can't always make a person work at the same place forever.
"There are people who won't stay even for money because they want to move on and experiment. So you can understand why Vowles went to Williams, but the question is how Mercedes will be without him.
"But to be without a main strategist is impossible so I'm sure they will have to replace him with someone. Perhaps it won't be one person but several, but they must replace him with someone.
"It is impossible without a strategist," Petrov insisted.
According to Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff, however, Mercedes is well-placed to not overly suffer due to Vowles departure.
"We've had people stepping up when someone leaves a position open many times," he said. "It's proof that we work with many capable people.
"So there is no gap left behind," Wolff added. "We have discussed succession planning in this area for many years."