In the 19th episode of Formula 1’s ‘Beyond The Grid’ podcast, Claire Williams talks about the team’s 2018 form, role played by Bernie Ecclestone and Toto Wolff in making her deputy principal, her family heritage and more.
Claire starts the podcast by talking about the ‘shocking’ form for Williams in the current F1 season which she says wasn’t expected despite knowing the fact that they weren’t to be as competitive as the other midfield teams.
Considering the form they are in, she does not want to raise any hopes or predict their future course especially for 2019 with other teams also working as hard to improve their performances.
Claire then talks about her early life as a kid when she used to visit the factory and play around. She says her dad Frank did not force her to be in F1 but it was her choice to work with the team – starting with the team’s communication department.
She shares an interesting story as well as a PR of the team. She reveals that she was thrown out of her university for not doing well enough in the Portuguese language. A little later in the podcast, she talks as to how she became the deputy team principal.
Claire says it wasn’t her idea or her dad’s but it was Wolff and Ecclestone who played a key role in her becoming the team’s deputy head. Wolff wanted to leave for Mercedes and so he along with Ecclestone decided to make here the deputy.
She shares how they broke the news to her which not even Frank knew about. Although till date, she doesn’t know why Wolff and Ecclestone decided to do so. Staying with the team, she talks about the influence her mother, Virgina.
She reveals about the butterfly sticker on the nose of Williams car which is dedicated to her mother as he loved butterflies. She also talks about her involvement in driver selection back in the days, especially with the hiring of Nigel Mansell.
But Claire did not reveal the name of a drive who stayed in their house and was certain to become part of the team but didn’t get it as Virginia wanted to have Mansell. Moving to Claire being a woman in a male-dominant sport, she says she hardly cares about it.
She knows that it will be the case for as long and has been the case and so she puts her focus on the work rather than care about what other thinks about her. She ends the podcast talking about her family life and the OBE she received.
Excerpts from the podcast:
“It’s been an enormous shock actually,” said Williams. “I fully expected to come into this year in a much better place. I think we all did, and probably a lot of fans of ours around the world thought that we were going to be coming out with a much quicker race car.
“That was the expectation, so when we got to testing – we didn’t even have to wait till Australia to really realise that that wasn’t the case. But as the season has progressed, certainly in the earlier races, it was an enormous shock.
“I couldn’t quite believe that Williams was repeatedly finding itself down at the bottom of the grid, either in qualifying or [the race]. And I don’t think I’ve quite gotten over that shock yet. All I know is that there are two races to go and I can’t wait until the chequered flag in Abu Dhabi, if I’m allowed to say that.
“Clearly we’ve had countless meetings with Paddy, with the whole technical group. Clearly there are a number of issues at play but I’m not a one to air dirty laundry. One of the things that I’m proudest of this year is that the team has really stuck together.
“We could have imploded, we could have all started a load of infighting, we could have sacked half the people, but that’s not the way that I wanted this to play out. Of course we’ve had conversations, and we know the clear areas of weakness.
“I think probably the world can see the biggest areas of weakness for us, and of course there has to be accountability. We have to look at where we’ve gone wrong. Probably aero we went wrong with, cooling we went wrong with, but there are many other factors at play.
“You don’t find yourself sliding back from P5 to P10 in the championship without a lot of other things at play as well. It’s not just about how we went about designing our race car over the winter.
“All I can say is we’re doing every single thing possible to make sure that we address every single problem that we have in this team in order to make sure 2019 is better for us. But if it’s not, at least I know that we’re setting ourselves up for certainly a better future beyond that.”
[Listen: Nico Rosberg]