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The personal reasons why Williams had to be sold

The personal reasons why Williams had to be sold

F1 News

The personal reasons why Williams had to be sold

The personal reasons why Williams had to be sold

Claire Williams has revealed there were "two elements" behind the emotional decision to end her family's 43-year legacy in Formula 1.

The Italian Grand Prix in early September last year proved to be the last of the 739 under family ownership before the reins were handed over to American investment company Dorilton Capital.

Putting the team up for sale in May had come on the back of a £13million loss for last year, combined with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the departure of title sponsor ROKiT.

According to former deputy team principal Williams, in an interview with this writer for a recent article in The New York Times, the impact of all those factors "were the final nails in our coffin".

She added: “When corona hit there was the bigger picture to think about, how we were going to go racing again and keep our business afloat during lockdown.

“It was like, ‘Right, we’re really scraping about here on what we’ve got.’ Then the decision came that we had to seek investment or sell. We didn’t have a choice. We’d literally done everything.”

The eventual decision to sell and cut the cord with F1, however, was based on what Williams has described as "two elements" - one naturally team related, the other more personal.

"The first was saving the team,” said Williams. “When I say saving the team, I mean ensuring the people had the security of their job, that the team existed or survived for their benefit.

“I also wanted to make sure my dad came out of it with money to show for his work, not that he would have cared.

“My dad’s never taken a penny out of the team over the years. I wanted to ensure he had something to show for his legacy. That was really important to me as well. I felt that quite keenly considering the position the team had been in for many years.

"I didn't think it was right just to keep going so the Williams family stayed in the sport. That would have culminated in the team going into administration and just coming away with nothing."

Selling up to an investment company naturally raised eyebrows at the time, yet Williams insists that after considerable due diligence Dorilton Capital were the right candidates to take the team forward from all those who had shown an interest.

“They’ve got deep pockets,” said Williams. “I was fed up with the team, and all the people in it, scrabbling around not being able to do their job properly because we didn’t have the money to allow them to do it.

“For many years, I always found that quite deeply frustrating and upsetting. I knew Dorliton were willing to put money into the team in order to take the team back to the front of the grid. I could sense a real passion to do that, very similar to our family’s passion.

“They had a huge amount of respect for the heritage and the legacy of Williams, a huge respect for what my dad’s achieved, and they didn’t want to rip that up.

“They wanted to build around that, and why they wanted to keep the name is important to me. I just felt that they were the right fit for Williams and for the people.”

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