The arrival of Pat Fry as chief technical officer has been “massively important” for Williams, according to team principal James Vowles.

Fry was signed from Alpine earlier this year, starting work at Grove in November and attending races in Brazil and Abu Dhabi as he assesses the team’s current working set-up. As the headline signing under Vowles’ leadership so far, the Williams boss says Fry brings crucial knowledge of what the team will need to climb further up the grid.

“It’s massively important. It’s not so much about the experience in the field –  what it’s about for me is that he’s seen excellence and he understands what excellence looks like,” Vowles told RACER. “He’s also someone that has a very similar philosophy to me, which is that you invest in people, you invest in culture, you invest in systems, you invest in structure.

“There’s no such thing as a shortcut, they do not exist. You look for those and you’re going to get bitten by it pretty quickly. It’s about investing properly and don’t worry about the returns. It could take several years, but he has my support and the support of the board that we will get there together at the same time.

“That’s where Williams is, we do need to put in these large, significant, structural steps, not small, short-term fixes. He was at Ferrari and at McLaren, where in both eras he was there they were fighting at the front, so he knows how to do it.”

Vowles said there will still be a technical director brought in at some stage to work with Fry, and that having someone of such experience as chief technical officer allows him to target an unproven but hungry name with potential.

“I think that’s the beauty of the structure we’ve gone for. We have a CTO, there’s still a position here for a technical director,” he said. “You’ll see the gap that we’ve just created around that, and actually in that role I think getting someone less experienced and of a different generation is the perfect position to put in there. For the time being Pat is completing both roles and completing them successfully, but we do need to fill in that other area in time.”