Frank and Claire Williams hand over reins of legendary F1 team

  • Williams team will remain in sport under new ownership
  • Sixteen world titles were won between 1980 and 1997

Sir Frank Williams and his daughter, Claire, are to end their association with the Williams Formula One team. The pair will conclude their roles as team principal and deputy team principal respectively after this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, marking the end of an era for one of the most successful teams in F1.

Family-run and independent since their formation more than 40 years ago the team are committed to remaining in F1 but will do so under the auspices of the new owner after the team’s recent purchase by the US investment company Dorilton Capital.

The team subsequently announced the formation of a new board to head the company. It will consist of Matthew Savage, the chair of Dorilton Capital, Darren Fultz, the chief executive officer of Dorilton, and James Matthews, the CEO of Eden Rock, an investment advisory firm based in London. Who will replace the Williams’s in running the team has not been announced.

Williams were formed in 1977 by Williams and Patrick Head and have been fiercely independent ever since. During that time they have enjoyed remarkable success, with nine constructors’ titles and seven drivers’ championships between 1980 and 1997.

However their last win was in 2012 and Williams have just endured the worst two seasons in their 43 years in F1, finishing last in the championship both times. Two weeks ago they announced their sale to Dorilton, for £136m.

Williams’ current driver pairing, Nicholas Latifi (pictured at the Belgian Grand Prix) and George Russell, are yet to score a point this from seven rounds this season.
Williams’ current driver pairing, Nicholas Latifi (pictured at the Belgian Grand Prix) and George Russell, are yet to score a point this from seven rounds this season. Photograph: Francisco Seco/AFP/Getty Images

“With the future of the team now secured, this feels like the appropriate time for us to step away from the sport,” Claire Williams said in Monza. “We are incredibly proud of our track record and the legacy we leave behind.”

Williams as deputy team principal has handled the day-to-day management of the team at race weekends since she took on the role in 2013 and is the only woman in the role in F1.

“We have always been in it for the love of it, for the pure pleasure of going motor racing, so this is not a decision that we have taken lightly but after much reflection and as a family,” she said. “This may be the end of an era for Williams as a family-run team, but it is the beginning of a new era for Williams Racing and we wish them much success in the future.”

The British driver George Russell, now in his second season with the team, was confident in the new owner. “For Claire and the Williams family, the team means a huge amount to them, more than it does to anyone else,” he said. “They would have not sold it to a company if they did not have faith that they have the team’s best interests at heart.”

In 2004, three years before Lewis Hamilton joined F1, Frank Williams had come close to signing him. Hamilton has always maintained the great respect he has for Sir Frank, who said in 2012 he would snap Hamilton up should he have wanted to drive for his team. The world champion was among many drivers who expressed his sadness at the end of the family’s involvement in Monza.

“I am big fan of Sir Frank and his incredible contribution to the sport,” he said. “He was always so positive to me he was one of the people I spoke to most here. He was one of the most if not the most honest people in F1.

“It is the end of a chapter but the legacy will continue, I believe they will keep the name at least. I was hopeful at some stage they would come back and be back at the front. I remember dreaming of driving the car [Nigel] Mansell had but it never turned into an a real option for me and that was when I moved to Mercedes. I wish them all the best on their next endeavours.”

Contributor

Giles Richards

The GuardianTramp

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