Fry was recently appointed as the new Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for Williams. This came after Fry left an Alpine team that was facing difficulties, with the team boss Otmar Szafnauer and sporting director Alan Permane being dismissed by the upper management.
The deal to sign Fry, who is set to take up his position before the end of the year, predates Alpine’s flurry of management changes by several months.
According to Vowles, the coup to convince the experienced engineer to join Williams shows that his squad is serious about wanting to implement significant changes at Grove on its long journey back to the front.
When asked by Motorsport.com if Fry’s marquee signing can be the catalyst to more high-profile personnel making the jump, Vowles replied: “In part. But I hope that for a start, when people saw that I left the comfort of Mercedes to go to Williams and now people have seen Pat, at a time where Alpine was in a strong place, people will now understand that Williams wants a culture of change.
“It’s not solely about that. Rather, it’s about the fact that when you witness two highly experienced individuals who have dedicated over two decades to the sport and have achieved numerous victories, their decision to join us here will help others recognize the value of undertaking a similar journey.”
He stated, “I intended to make it clear that this desire to join Williams was not recent, but rather a long time ago.”
Vowles revealed his first talks with Fry date back to January, as he had quickly identified the former Benetton, McLaren and Ferrari stalwart as a key figure in implementing a new technical structure at the team, while freeing up Vowles’ time for more strategical thinking.
“I initially spoke to Pat in January, before officially joining Williams,” he clarified. “To clarify, Pat was the person I had expressed a strong desire to work with at Williams.”
James Vowles, Team Principal of Williams Racing
Photo by: Williams
He possesses exceptional skills in entering organizations when there is a need for someone to roll up their sleeves and actively engage in establishing and improving structure and systems.
“There’s different types of CTOs available to you. There are ones that are very good at finding your last 10 milliseconds. There are ones that are very good at putting structures and systems in place, and he’s more the latter.
“He had a clear desire to continue his journey with Alpine, which is understandable. However, by April, he began to understand the reasons behind my decision to join Williams and fully supported and aligned himself with that vision.”
Williams’s next significant challenge is to select a fresh technical director who will report to Fry. Although Vowles has recognized “various” potential individuals for the position, he stated that “currently, there is no information to discuss.”
Adam Cooper also contributed to the reporting.