SPECIAL REPORT: James Vowles’ sleepless nights, Alex Albon’s rising fame, and Logan Sargent 2.0… inside Williams’ 2025 preparations – and how they’ve changed ‘everything’ ahead of the new Formula One season. bb

Outside a retail store in the heart of New York’s Fifth Avenue, crowds stand with their faces pressed up against the glass. Some have waited since 6am in freezing temperatures for a glimpse of what is unfolding inside.

One young man is pulled from the crowds and allowed in, his woolly hat pulled tight around his head and a handwritten sign gripped by his gloved hands.

Minutes later, he has a front-row seat for the beginning of a new chapter in Williams Racing history, as Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant pull back the covers on the FW46, their challenger for the 2024 Formula One season.

And as the team admits, ‘everything’ has changed ahead of a fresh year in the most expensive sport in the world. 2023 was good, but the hope from team principal James Vowles is that 2024 can be even better.

Here, DailyMail.com goes behind the scenes to find out Williams’ plans for the new year, how Vowles is already finding success… and what happened during a grueling winter back at the factory.

Williams launched their 2024 Formula One car in the heart of New York City on Monday

Williams launched their 2024 Formula One car in the heart of New York City on Monday

One lucky young fan - who had waited outside since 6am - was invited inside the launch event

One lucky young fan – who had waited outside since 6am – was invited inside the launch event

James Vowles admits he has suffered sleepless nights thinking about the team in the winter

James Vowles admits he has suffered sleepless nights thinking about the team in the winter

‘There are nights that I really haven’t slept because of the responsibility. I have the weight of the company on my shoulders.’


Crouched over a table at the top of a New York skyscraper, the Manhattan skyline in full view behind him, Williams team principal James Vowles is in a reflective mood.

It is a big day for the Oxfordshire-based Formula One team, who have nine constructors’ titles and seven drivers’ championships in their storied history.

The last few years have been bleak, but 2023 offered a glimpse into new beginnings, and now – with Vowles at the helm – things are looking up.

The former Mercedes strategy chief is speaking on the biggest day of the year so far for his team, split across two different continents and for two big reasons.

In New York City, the 2024 Williams livery is being revealed for the first time, and to much fanfare. Back in the UK, meanwhile, the engine on the real car is being fired up for the first time – a sure sign of the season edging ever closer.

But while the off-season has brought some much-needed respite for fans and – to a degree – drivers, for a man like Vowles, the back-breaking 365-day cycle of F1 is relentless and rest is hard to come by.

Fans lined up around the block for a glimpse of the Formula One stars on Monday

Fans lined up around the block for a glimpse of the Formula One stars on Monday

Logan Sargeant pulls back the cover on the new Williams FW46 at the Puma store in Manhattan

Logan Sargeant pulls back the cover on the new Williams FW46 at the Puma store in Manhattan

‘I think we’re probably the last team to get it all together and fire the car up, which happened today,’ Vowles tells Mail Sport at the top of the Rockefeller Center. ‘It’s a momentous occasion for the team, and I love being here, don’t get me wrong… but I also really miss the fact that I didn’t get to hear the car for the first time.’

Just by spending half an hour in the company of Formula One’s youngest team principal, it is easy to see why he is so well-regarded across the grid.

At just 44, he already has over 20 years’ experience in the sport, and more trophies in his own cabinet than Williams have in theirs. And that’s saying something.

He is deeply ingrained in his new role, with a year now under his belt, but clearly carries the weight of the world upon his shoulders.

His determination to succeed seeps out of every pore, with Vowles keen to insist that he will do whatever it takes to get this team back where it belongs.

‘I didn’t care about last year, and I don’t really care about this year,’ he explains. ‘Yeah, I’m confident we’ve done a really good job, but what I care about is us fighting at the front for championships again.

William had handwritten a sign for his heroes, and he got to meet them at the launch event

William had handwritten a sign for his heroes, and he got to meet them at the launch event

In Vowles, the British team have a hugely successful and trophy-laden team principal

In Vowles, the British team have a hugely successful and trophy-laden team principal

‘Everything is about long-term resolution, not short-term, and the result of that is that we took – and we will continue to take – enormous risks with this company.

‘I’m not going to be withheld because my job is on the line if we’re not doing a good enough job. The only way to get this team back to the front is break everything.

‘I’ve used the terms internally: “break the cycle”. And that’s exactly what we are doing. Even what we’ve done the last two months, I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved… [but] it’s not good enough.’

Those are strong words from a man that was widely praised for dragging the team from 10th – and dead last – in the standings to 7th in just his first season.

The rise of three places will give them a huge financial boost for this season, but it is clear that Vowles’ priorities are not 7th, or 6th, or 5th. To be honest, 4th, 3rd and 2nd don’t matter either. There is one clear goal for this new-look Williams team: it’s win or bust.

In Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant, Williams have a driver pairing with a huge amount of potential. Albon carried the team through 2023, scoring 27 of the team’s 28 points, but Sargeant in his second season still has much to offer, both on and off the grid.

As he enters his sophomore year, he remains the lone American on the grid, and – as shown by Williams launching their car in the US – the 23-year-old Floridian has huge marketing value.

Vowles teased ‘a much more confident young man’ before Sargeant faced a gaggle of journalists on Monday, and that was immediately clear as he told stories about his summer of ice baths, his love of the Miami Dolphins – and even how Taylor Swift can combat her jet-lag flying from Tokyo to Vegas for the Super Bowl this weekend.


Logan Sargeant has been having two ice baths a day during his offseason

The young driver appears to have leveled up and says he is now five kilos heavier than last season

Logan Sargeant has been having two ice baths a day during his winter and weighs 5kg more

Williams finished seventh in the constructors' standings last season but are still looking up

Williams finished seventh in the constructors’ standings last season but are still looking up

Getting down to the nitty-gritty, though, he spoke honestly about his 2023 struggles, and the plans he’s put in place to combat that heading into his second year. He is, by all accounts, Logan Sargeant 2.0.

‘I’m five kilos heavier now than I was at the end of last season,’ he explains, before adding, candidly: ‘I wasn’t in great shape, to be honest.’

‘It’s been nice to find myself again,’ he continues, hinting at mental struggles as he fought tooth and nail for his seat on the grid last season.

‘I think we have a very different year coming our way as a team. We have changed the approach of the car massively, which means it’s going to be difficult for the engineers because the setup is going to change completely.

‘It’s going to be difficult for me and Alex because the driving style is going to change completely. But at the same time, it feels like the car has become much more well rounded, it has become much more predictable and much more drivable. And hopefully, that equals performance.’  

Albon, meanwhile, is starting from a much higher baseline, but as rumors swirl about a potential seat alongside Max Verstappen at Red Bull in 2025, he too has plenty to prove.

For the Thai-British driver, his stock is constantly rising, evident in the amount he has been recognized on the streets of New York this week.

‘The reception around America, walking around the streets, you get more and more noticed every time you come here,’ he explains.

But despite all the attention on track, it will be back to business for Albon and the team when they land in Bahrain in a matter of weeks.

He acknowledges there is still a ‘mountain to climb’ if they are to get back to the heady days of the 80s and 90s – but the consensus inside the team is that they’re well on the way to getting there.

Sargeant and Albon pose in front of the new Williams car at the team's New York unveiling

Sargeant and Albon pose in front of the new Williams car at the team’s New York unveiling

Albon is pictured with his long-time girlfriend - professional golfer Lily Muni He

Albon is pictured with his long-time girlfriend – professional golfer Lily Muni He

Timing, though, is everything – especially if they want to keep Albon when his contract expires at the end of the upcoming season.

F1 is a ruthless sport when it comes to teams ditching drivers, but this could well be the other way around if Williams don’t make the step up they’re expecting this season. And even Albon himself isn’t shying away from that.

‘I’m very interested to see the work we’ve done from last year into this year,’ he explains. ‘Where does the performance of the car put us?

‘Obviously that will be a big factor in wherever I plan the future to be.’

And so, for both drivers and the team itself, the upcoming season is the biggest in many years. With Vowles at the wheel, they are in excellent hands – but whether the change can come quickly enough remains to be seen.


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