Italian Grand Prix – Sir Frank Williams and Claire Williams will leave F1 behind this weekend after more than forty years running the team between them.
This weekend marks the end of an era for Formula 1, as the Williams family will leave the sport behind them. After 43 years and 739 Grands Prix, the independent family-owned team have sold up recently to private investment firm Dorilton Capital.
Sir Frank Williams established the team following him losing control of his original Williams team that he established in the late 60s. The ‘new’ team made its debut at the 1977 Spanish Grand Prix at Jarama, with Sir Frank remaining Team Principal ever since. They became one of the most successful teams ever in the sport, with multiple championships through the 80s and 90s before the team began to struggle in the mid 00’s against bigger manufacturer teams. With his health declining in recent years, Sir Frank handed over the day to day running to his daughter Claire as Deputy Team Principal.
Both will leave their roles after this weekend. Claire joined the team in 2002 working for the Communications department before stepping up to the board in 2012 as Commercial and Marketing Director. She was made Deputy Team Principal in 2013 but, with Williams’ financial struggles only increasing over the years since, she was unable to generate anywhere near the same success her father was able to during the 1980s and 1990s.
“It is with a heavy heart that I am stepping away from my role with the team.” said Claire of the decision. “I had hoped to continue my tenure long into the future and to preserve the Williams family’s legacy into the next generation. However, our need to find inward investment earlier this year due to a number of factors, many of which were outside of our control, resulted in the sale of the team to Dorilton Capital. My family has always put our racing team and our people first and this was absolutely the right decision. I know in them we have found the right people to take Williams back to the front of the grid while also preserving the Williams legacy.”
“It has not been an easy decision but it’s one I believe to be right for all involved. I have been enormously privileged to have grown up in this team and in the wonderful world that is Formula One. I have loved every minute and will be forever grateful for the opportunities it has given me. But it’s also an incredibly challenging sport and I now want to see what else the world holds for me. Most importantly, I want to spend time with my family.”
“I would like to thank Dorilton for their support and for understanding my decision. I would also like to thank our fans who have stuck by us through thick and thin. Our people at Williams have always been family, they have kept me motivated during the difficult times and it is them who I will miss the most. It is my genuine hope that the process we’ve gone through brings them the success they deserve. And finally, I would like to thank my Dad for everything he has given to the team, the sport and our family.”
“We have been in this sport for more than four decades. We are incredibly proud of our track record and the legacy we leave behind. 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.
“We are greatly appreciative of Dorilton’s encouragement to continue, but in them we know the team will be in good hands and the Williams name will live on. 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.
“On behalf of Frank and the Williams family, I would like to say how incredibly grateful and humbled we are for the support we have enjoyed over the years, from our friends in the paddock to the many fans around the world. But mostly, we would like to thank our team. People who have worked at Williams in the past and present. They are the true warriors of this team and have made it what it is and we wish them well. Formula One has been our life for so long and now it’s time for a new chapter in our lives to begin.”
New Chairman of Williams is Matthew Savage, also of Dorilton Capital, and he said they respect the decisions made by the Williams family: “Claire’s achievement in sustaining Williams Racing’s heritage, relevance and commitment to innovation in a difficult environment since taking charge in 2013 has been nothing short of monumental. She has also been hugely instrumental in shaping a more level technical and financial playing field for F1, which will help to ensure the team’s return to the front of the grid in seasons to come. We are proud to carry the Williams name into the next exciting phase for the sport and we thank Sir Frank, Claire and the Williams family for the opportunity to be part of this great British brand.”