Toto Wolff may soon face a big embarrassment with long-term engine partner Williams hinting they could find another provider. Making it even more awkward for the Austrian is that Williams are now run by the Silver Arrows' former strategy director James Vowles.
The 43-year-old was a key member at the heart of the team's inner circle and removing his support could be an ominous sign for the German marque's long-term future. When pushed on whether Williams are tied to Mercedes going forward, Vowles revealed that Williams are still considering alternatives.
He told RacingNews365: "We are at the moment still in the process of making sure we understand all the options available to this team. The rules contain some lines which state that theoretically, as taken in 2025, this is the number of teams a PU manufacturer can supply. Same rules, by the way, that should have limited this year down to less PU supplies than they currently have.
"I think that's an ongoing discussion, but no, we're not locked into Mercedes, and we're still in the process of reviewing.
"But we have to, as all teams will do as well, come to a decision fairly shortly." Vowles added that a decision on Williams' new power unit is likely to be made before the end of the season.
Before taking over the role, Vowles denied that the Silver Arrows would become a Mercedes B team with him at the helm. Doubling down on his assertion that Mercedes would look around other manufacturers first, Vowles stressed it would be wrong to go with the eight-time constructors' champions simply because he used to work there.
He added: "As you would imagine, it would be foolish to simply just go with where I'm comfortable and what I know. If you go and get your house painted, you get three quotes - I would highly recommend you do that if you don't - and it's the same here, I want to make sure I understand what's available to us."
Wolff has previously admitted Vowles' departure ahead of the 2023 season came as "quite a surprise". However, he also denied there would be any links to Williams as a result of Vowles' new position.
He explained: "If I were ever to get involved with James and ask him to become mini-Mercedes, he would tell me to get lost. There was always the speculation that Williams, because of the Mercedes engine, was a subordinate but none of that was obviously true."2023-03-27T12:13:00Z dg43tfdfdgfd