Williams have appointed former Mercedes head of strategy James Vowles as their new team principal.
The 43-year-old was a central figure at Mercedes during their domination of Formula 1 from 2014 to 2021.
As motorsport strategy director, Vowles was one of a small set of influential senior people who ran Mercedes under team principal Toto Wolff.
Vowles said it was “an honour to join a team with such an incredibly rich heritage”.
He replaces Jost Capito, who was sacked by Williams in December after just two years with the team.
Vowles, who starts his role on 20 February, said: “I cannot wait to start with Williams Racing. The team is an icon of our sport, one I greatly respect, and I am very much looking forward to the challenge.
“I am grateful for everything Toto and the team have provided, and it has been such a special experience to journey together through failure and success.”
Vowles will be charged with reviving the fortunes of a team who dominated F1 for large periods of the 1980s and 1990s but who have slipped to the back of the field in recent years, finishing last for three of the past four seasons.
The team have been through a series of management changes in recent years, including their sale by the founding Williams family to Dorilton Capital, with little improvement in their fortunes.
He said he believed Williams had “great potential” and was “confident we can move up the grid”.
He said Dorilton, which took over in 2020, was prepared to put in the funding required to improve the team but that “the impact will take a while to properly kick in”.
Vowles said the idea of becoming a team principal had been in his mind “for many years” and was grateful to Mercedes for helping him makes steps towards it before this opportunity arose.
He said he expected that the team would need a “change to the culture and methods and systems”, adding: “What is required is a restrengthening of the technical team but also allowing those internally who are incredibly good to shine and prosper.
“I suspect the environment they’ve had around them isn’t one that is conducive to that.
“I am fortunate enough to have known failure. The real gain is you have to instil a culture that allows everyone to realise you have to be empowered – you have to grow and move forward together.
“It has to be one collaborative motion, and I strongly suspect that collaboration is not quite at the level if could be or should be, just because it has been a few years of pain that has cemented it.”
Matthew Savage, chairman of Williams owners Dorilton, said: “James is one of the most highly respected talents in Formula 1 and will bring performance.
“He has been a key part of some of the most impressive feats in the sport over the past 15 years.
“We believe that the appointment of James reinforces our dedication to ensuring we have energetic, experienced and strong leadership as we move into the next phase of transforming Williams Racing.”
Vowles’ move comes with Mercedes’ blessing, with Wolff saying it was “deserved”.
In the past two years, Vowles’ role at Mercedes has broadened from being focused purely on race strategy to decisions regarding the direction of the F1 team and Mercedes Motorsport as a whole.
Wolff, who was a director of Williams from 2009 to 2012 before going Mercedes, said: “In our organisation for him to move up, I would need to move aside and I feel there is still something left in me.
“And therefore going to Williams, a team which is close to my heart and part of my history in F1 that I will always cherish, is obviously great.
“And having a sparring partner at Williams, someone who is very logical and rational while very experienced in F1, is of overall benefit for Williams and Mercedes and also for F1 generally. James has been around a long time. He has seen it all. I have no doubt Williams choosing him is a fantastic move for them.”
Vowles has worked at Mercedes’ Brackley base since he started his 21-year career in F1, staying through its guises as British American Racing, Honda, Brawn and then Mercedes and taking on key engineering and race strategy roles before moving into his most recent position in 2018.