Today it was announced by Williams Racing F1 Team that long standing Team Principal and Founder Sir Frank Williams, and Deputy Team Principal and daughter, Claire Williams were to leave the team after the weekend’s Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
Having recently been taken over by American investors Dorilton Capital, the Williams family stepped down from ownership after founding the team in 1977. The new owners stated the name of the team and famous chassis code FW- would not be changed. Today they made their first major decision in firing the family as team bosses.
Whilst at time of writing, the new Team Principal has not been announced this is a seismic change for F1 and for Williams Racing. A team built from the ground up with 9 Constructor’s Championships, 7 Driver’s Championships, 114 race wins, the most recent being the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix by Paster Maldonado, and 312 podium finishes, the most recent being the 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix by Lance Stroll.
Williams have long been considered a hub for driver development. On the current grid with George Russell and Nicholas Latifi, both Valtteri Bottas and Lance Stroll spent significant time at the team, and even Nico Hulkenberg who raced at Silverstone this season for Racing Point spent a season at Williams. Whilst the departing bosses say the takeover and new owners are dedicated to the team and getting Williams back at the front of the grid, it is Sir Frank and Claire who’ve brought drivers in at young ages and given them their chances in F1, many of whom went on to win races and championships at Williams and elsewhere in the sport.
What does this mean going forward?
Nobody really quite knows. The new Team Principal has a mighty job on their hands to achieve Dorilton Capital’s ambitions of getting Williams back to the front of the grid. The new budget cap for all teams starting in 2021 does help to level the playing field, however due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all the teams are stuck with what will basically be the same car until the 2022 season when a mountain of new regulations aimed at increasing competition come into force. So Williams Racing are stuck with a car used to being around the back of the grid for another season and a half. One could speculate a settled year with the partnership between George Russell and Nicholas Latifi may help stabilise the team to join the midfield battles ahead of Ferrari powered cars in Haas and Alfa Romeo, who due to Ferrari’s frankly bad engine, have not been performing well at all.
This is a new beginning for Williams Racing, one no-one quite expected, but one that the legions of Willams fans worldwide will hope to bring the British team back into contention for podiums and eventually race wins. After all it was only 5 years ago they were finishing P3 in the Constructors. P5 in 2017, so Williams have seen limited success in the hybrid era which Mercedes have dominated. But Sir Frank will no longer be leading the team, and Claire no longer running the garage every race weekend. I hope they do well at Monza, after all whilst they almost certainly won’t win, any steps forward will be a giant leap for the plucky little team from Oxfordshire.
Do Sir Frank proud, George. He and Claire will be behind you.
Headline Image Credit: Public Domain – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Logo_Williams_F1.png