I can’t watch the races because it hurts too much.”Claire Williams says that in an interview with”The Spectator”. The Briton who sold the Williams team last year illustrates with a little distance how it came to the decision and what factors played a role.
“Whenever life does not go so well, it is usually money t hat is to blame. The formula 1 became incredibly expensive in a very short time. The top teams have spent half a billion –compared to our 120 million, this is simply not fair competition,”Williams denounces the budget differences.
It was therefore particularly difficult for their team in recent years to keep up with the other teams. Williams has been on the loose since 2018. Due to the tense financial situation and the lack of success, the traditional team was stuck at the end of the field.
Complex rules & internal tensions
“We also had so many problems internally with the staff,” Williams also notes. Although the 44-year-old does not name names, it became clear that there were internal tensions at the latest after the late start of the season 2019. Chief Technology Officer Paddy Lowe then had to take his hat.
Another problem was also the increasing complexity of the technical rules Williams had to contend with. In addition, the regulation has disadvantaged independent manufacturers, says the former team leader.
“Listed Parts”, those parts of a car that a team has to make itself have been “watered down.” As a result, new teams were able to buy certain parts from the top teams, making them significantly more successful and faster. They have practically circumvented the process.”
All these circumstances have finally brought the team that was once formed by Frank Williams and Patrick Head to the end of the field.” Once you get there, you get less prize money, and also less interest from sponsors –that further reduces your budget.”
In this vicious circle Williams had arrived in recent years. When Claire Williams took over her post in the year 2013 and practically ran the business as deputy team leader, she was able to quickly celebrate first successes.
After two third places in the designer’s World Cup, two fifth ranks followed before the team slipped into insignificance. Looking back, Williams would have wished for a reversed balance of success, then she believes they would have been better remembered as well.
Sale: “We had no choice”
“In the 2020’s we thought we would get the curve. Then we had difficulties with our main sponsor, which made a lot of money suddenly lacking in the budget. And then the pandemic came. Then I thought, “That can’t be true now”
Despite initial progress on the track it was too late for Williams to be able to pull the oar around anymore.” We were on many routes one to one and a half seconds faster than last year. But these last two events have sealed our fate. In the end we simply ran out of road.”
It was finally time to let the team go. At the end of May 2020, the team was announced for sale. Was that the right decision in retrospect? We really had no choice. We wouldn’t have sold if we hadn’t been cornered. But it was the right thing to do.”
As team leader, she knew that the team needed new owners who could invest money.” And that made Williams angry because she couldn’t provide her own team with the right resources, even though all the members continued to fight so hard for survival.
“That was a big factor in decision-making.” that Williams could potentially get new owners have declared many interest.” It was great to see that there was still so much interest in Williams. This was a good health check for the team and the sport.”
Among all interested parties, the investment company Dorilton Capital turned out to be the appropriate owner. On August 21st, the takeover became official. Of course, I discussed it with my father, and I also had two brothers who were involved and also my husband.”
“I was insulted and insulted by social media”
Although the final decision was”heartbreaking”, but still the right one.” If you love something, sometimes you just have to let it go.”What about the Claire Williams years? I have put a lot of work into preserving this culture.”
By this she means above all the work ethic in Grove, the seat of the racing stable. Williams admits that it has been a great challenge to keep and motivate all employees in the past years, even though the results have not been available on the race track, Williams admits.
“People have nevertheless given blood, sweat and tears, even though they knew that the performance is not in the car. But your term of office is always linked to the failure and sale of the team.
The mood towards the team, but especially towards the person Claire Williams, has changed in recent years.” True, because I was the team boss.”However, she also points out that sometimes her hands were tied.
“Sometimes you make decisions because you think they are the right ones. And sometimes it just doesn’t work out. That’s what happened in my case. I was held accountable, I had to take a lot of money, and I was insulted and insulted on social media. Of course, I could have focused on that.”
But it would have taken a lot of energy from her and”I had to devote my full attention to the team. And I had to prove to everyone that I could. And I think I could have done it. If only I had been given more time and we would have had more money.”
Williams, however, struggled with one of the smallest budgets of all teams due to the lack of results and an unfortunate handshake with sponsors. Unfortunately, we did not have the luxury of a big title sponsor or a car manufacturer who pumps 100 million a year into the team.”
What Williams learned in her eight years as team leader, but also:”I am much more resilient than I thought. I’ve always said as long as people on the team hold the bar for me, I don’t care what other people say. Because only the members of the team know the truth.”