Claire Williams features on ‘Women with Balls’ podcast where she opens up on her journey, decision to leave, F1 paddock advice and more.
In her appearance on Spectator’s ‘Women with Balls’ podcast – a series with a title referring, perhaps misleadingly, to the show host’s surname, Balls – Williams began discussion on the matter of her final weekend at the British team, in this year’s Italian GP.
Williams called the ‘chill time’ she and her family have enjoyed in the time since their departure from F1 ‘a real blessing’, before describing her childhood as an enjoyable one, despite the financial issues her family faced before their engineering success in the 1980s.
The 44-year-old confessed to a lack of understanding of what her father did when she was at a young age, before further discussing her teenage years during which she discovered her affinity for cars.
On the matter of her higher education, Williams said she enjoyed her four years at her alma mater, Newcastle. She also tells of her early days as a Silverstone press officer, revealing she was ‘devastated’ when she was fired by the circuit after ascending to the top position in their press programme.
In her subsequent move to Williams to assume the role of press officer there – a role, she says, her father was hesitant to give her for fear of apparent nepotism – Claire said she found enjoyment, enough that she would have been happy to spend 20 years in her position before moving to the top of the team and assuming a role on the board.
Williams then described her role as deputy team principal, classifying it as a ‘challenging position’ in which she had a ‘brilliant time’, albeit less so in the latter years when the team struggled. Nonetheless, she said she was ‘privileged’ to work in F1, despite unrelenting criticism she faced in Williams’ difficult years.
The Brit then spoke on her former teams’ financial troubles, which held them back as they were compounded by personnel challenges. She also emphasized the challenges of 2020 – including the loss of title sponsor and the COVID-19 pandemic for the team – and said that the season was ‘the end of the road’ for the team, leading for them to step away.
Williams also described an inflection in the perception of the team and attitude towards her, suggesting that many turned against her and generated negative ‘noise’. She insists she could have found success with more resources, and more time. She says, though, that the decision was hers and her family’s to step away from the F1 team.
Of the eventual sale of the F1 team, Williams said that great interest in their organisation was a sign of good health for the sport, and that the sale was what was unequivocally right for the team. After this, she addresses her unique position as a female in motorsport and is quick to acknowledge progress on this front.
Williams brushed off all criticisms surrounding her gender, which she says were present throughout her time in the sport. Then, she said she intends to spend the coming months with family and watching Netflix, on which she says her family found Sons of Anarchy, a 2008 drama on the streaming platform. She denies watching any F1 race since leaving in September, calling it ‘too heart wrenching’.
Williams then shared an outrageous piece of advice she received from someone who was encouraging her to wear heels in the paddock to appear taller than she is so as to be taken more seriously. She says she did not take this advice into consideration at any point.
Here’s the full podcast:
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Here’s Jost Capito on Williams 2.0