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How Williams Boss James Vowles Surprised His Partner by Flying a Helicopter to London

Somin Bhattacharjee

How Williams Boss James Vowles Surprised His Partner by Flying a Helicopter to London

Williams team principal James Vowles is one of the most respected figures in the paddock and widely considered by many to be one of F1’s sharpest minds. It turns out that Vowles is incredibly gifted away from F1 too, as he is officially licensed to fly a helicopter. In the latest episode of the Chequered Flag podcast, Vowles reveals how he surprised his partner with his helicopter skills.

During the season break, Vowles decided that he wanted to try something new. He was looking for something unique and challenging, but didn’t want to tell his partner Rachel Rolph, what he was doing.

In the podcast, Vowles revealed he got 30-40 hours of flying practice and took Rolph on board to surprise her. Rolph knew that they were going to fly all the way down to London. What she didn’t know, however, was that the Williams boss would pilot the helicopter.

“That just started, basically going through the checklist of things,” he said. “We were just acting things through. [I] fired up the helicopter and took off! With Rachel in the back”, said Vowles.

Vowles then revealed his partner’s reaction, upon watching him fly the helicopter. The 44-year-old admitted that Rolph let out a “little squeal” at the back and that it was a little difficult to fly, considering he had just come on the back of leading his F1 team in 22 races around the world.

After helping his team to a respectable 7th-place finish in 2023, Vowles has even bigger plans. Under his guidance, he wants to take Williams back to the top again.

James Vowles aiming to take Williams back to the top

Williams is one of the oldest and most iconic names in F1. The outfit is no longer managed by the Williams family, but their legacy remains strong, and old-school fans of the sport yearn to watch them win races and compete for titles again. The last few years were dark, with repeated finishes at the back of the grid killing their confidence and motivation.

Lowly investment in the team’s infrastructure over the last decade or so continues to hurt them, but Vowles’ arrival from Mercedes seems to have given them some stability. In 2023, they managed to do better than they have in a long time by finishing P7.

While many expect them to make bigger strides this season, Vowles acknowledges their lack of funds and admits it may take time before he fulfills his vision of taking Williams to the top again.

Post Edited By:Aishwary Gaonkar

About the author

Somin Bhattacharjee

Somin Bhattacharjee


Somin Bhattacharjee is an F1 editor at The SportsRush and has written more than 2000 articles. He holds a bachelor's degree in business administration and considers sports to be a part of his life. Somin has been a fan of Scuderia Ferrari since 2010 and his favorite driver is none another than the legendary Fernando Alonso. Other than longing for a Ferrari Championship win once again, Somin spends his free time playing football and basketball.

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