Claire Williams says she was asked to stay but she decided to move on as she adds more on the sale with her F1 colleagues also joining in.
An unprecedented development, the sale of Williams, and the transfer of control from the Williams family to Dorilton Capital is of immeasurable significance, and as such it’s received an appropriate response from members of the F1 community.
Stepping down from her post after seven years of service as deputy team principal, Claire Williams’ resignation has been perhaps the most consequential change of the whole ordeal, and in itself, this announcement has been a point of discussion.
There was some thought that Williams might have been pushed out of her role by the new ownership, but the Brit denied this when talking about the change, as she insisted that the decision was hers to make while she discussed this, among many, many other things.
Here’s some of what was said:
On the degree to which she will miss F1:
Williams: “Firstly, I would like to say an enormous thank you for all the support that we have received since making the announcement and I think we felt quite overwhelmed by it. Williams has obviously contributed a huge amount to Formula 1. Certainly I think the legacy that Frank and Patrick have left behind is nothing short of extraordinary, what they have achieved. Not just the support we have received in the paddock, which we’re enormously grateful for, but also the support we have received from our fans. We have some of the best fans out there and yesterday they were contacting us in their thousands and it was lovely to see and we thank them enormously for all of their support.
“I think you can probably imagine how much I will miss F1 and how much the family will miss Formula 1. We have been in this sport for more than four decades and we have given it our all. I think we have all felt enormously privileged for the fact that we have had the time we have had in this sport, that we have even been in this sport. I know certainly from my perspective, I’ve always felt incredibly lucky that I was born into the Williams family, that I have grown up in this magical world that we all get to live in and work in every day; that I got to grow up around Williams and the incredible people that we have had there past and present. I will miss the people the most. It’s quite emotional for us. This has been our life for so many years. It’s what has defined us and it is who we are. But this is the start of a new chapter, not just for Williams but for our family as well.”
On her role as a female in motorsport, and setbacks related to her leaving:
Williams: “We’ve done a huge amount of work at Williams in order to promote greater diversity across the board, with a particular focus on gender diversity. I feel that that work has been enormously successful but it will continue, whether I’m there or not. The teams we have in place at Williams now running those programmes are incredibly passionate about it and I know that they will continue that work. But I do think Formula 1 has changed over the last handful of years. I think that the world has changed and in response to that Formula 1 has become much more diverse.
“We see many more women working in our sport and I know that will continue. I know that my fellow team principals are now thinking about more women across the board and it’s something that is on everybody’s agenda. But I’ve always believed that this sport should be based on a meritocracy and I think only the best people work in this sport and that should continue to be the case. We do need more women coming in. As I’ve said, we have seen more women coming into Formula 1 over the past few years and I hope that work will continue and I absolutely believe that it will.”
On being the only standing independent as of last week – being sold:
Williams: “I think, in reality, they probably are and I think that’s clearly a great shame because I think that the very foundation is that this sport has been built on those kind of individuals but the world changes and the world has changed dramatically over the past… even handful of years that we’ve been racing in Formula 1. I would like to make the point that I think that we have received an awful lot of criticism for some of the decisions that we’ve taken at Williams over the past handful of years but until you actually see what goes on behind the scenes of a Formula 1, particularly operating in the environment in which we find ourselves operating in at the moment in this sport, that has become ever harsher, predominantly courtesy of the last Concorde Agreement, I think our team has done an extraordinary job.
“All the people who have worked behind the scenes in order to just keep our team alive and to keep the fight as an independent team and I’m very proud of that work and it’s never something that I will regret having made decisions to ensure that we have retained that independence over the last few years. But I do think that Formula 1 has changed and I think it would be enormously hard for anyone of Frank’s ilk back from the ’70s to start with nothing. It would just be absolutely impossible. Another reason why I’m so pleased that the Concorde Agreement has been finalized because it is going to help create a much more level placing field and make it easier on teams like ours to be able to be successful in the future but also be sustainable in the future as well.”
One final message to fans in her final press conference:
Williams: “As I said earlier, we have had an extraordinary time in this sport. We have loved every minute of it. We’ve obviously had some amazing highs. We’ve equally had an awful lot of lows. I feel a bit that our family has given a huge amount to this sport. I think Frank… what he has achieved I will forever be in awe of and I know that there are probably many fans around the world as well. I hope that those fans continue to support our team like they’ve done over the four decades that we’ve been in Formula 1. We thank them enormously but we equally thank everybody that we’ve met along the way that have been so supportive of us. We thank everybody in the paddock that we’ve had such a wonderful time getting to know and working alongside.
“There are so many people I could thank but the list would be endless and we’d be here all afternoon and we’ve got practice to get to but I most of all wish our team well. This is obviously incredibly emotional. It’s a very sad weekend for us but as I said, it feels the right time so leave but we will always wish our team well. We wish the new owners well and we will always follow this sport, this sport that has given us so much, a sport that we have been in for the pure love of it and for no other reason and we wish everybody in this sport great success in the future and we will all be watching.”
Here’s what some her colleagues said about Williams:
Toto Wolff on the departure of Williams from F1:
Wolff: “The family have been the founders of this team and I will always hold the team high up. It was the start of my own journey in Formula 1. I remember the first sentence that Frank Williams told me when I went there in 2009 and that was “somebody told me that you can help repay my mortgage”. This is how he is and he is super straightforward and I ended up with a shareholding in the team. I met Claire and without it meaning it in any way patronising, I thought it was very important that Claire was on the board and I’m impressed on how she grew there and what she has achieved, together with her father. I will never forget our last win in 2012 with Pastor, which was an incredible moment, also because your mum was there, and probably one of my best moments in Formula 1.”
Cyril Abiteboul on the racing pedigree of Williams and their departure:
Abiteboul: “Obviously it’s an emotional moment, because as you say, the legacy that the team is carrying today under the Renault name has had its greatest moment, also as an engine supplier, particularly as an engine supplier of Williams. They were instrumental to building Renault’s reputation in the world – in the world of Formula 1 but also in the automotive world as a large OEM – so it’s been great sporting moments but also great business moments. We have for instance the Clio Williams, that is still a very fancy car the people love. It has clearly been a milestone of the sport but also on the road.
“Myself, I fell personally in love with Formula 1 during this period. Myself, one of my best memories is when I announced in Viry that we had done an engine deal again with Williams. That win of Pastor was actually not with a Mercedes engine but with a Renault engine. That was an amazing moment also for us. It’s good that the name I understand it staying but also a bit sad when the people that are carrying the name are leaving. But it’s good that the name stays and that there is a way forward for the Williams name and also the factory and the group of people.”
Andreas Seidl on the Williams family stepping aside:
Seidl: “Yeah, first of all, obviously sad news to know that the Williams family is not involved any more in Formula 1 in the future. At the same time also positive news that, first of all, the Williams name stays in Formula 1 as far as I understand. For the future in front of us for Formula 1 there is actually interest of investors to join. And last but not least, I think it is very important for the employees as well in the Williams team that they know they have a good future. And then, regarding my personal experience with Williams.
“It was obviously great for me as a young, and keen engine engineer to learn my way in motorsport in a Williams garage. I always admired this unbelievable commitment and passion all these guys had at Williams in the garage, which was a great education for me. And what was simply inspiring for me was how Frank, as a team principal at this time, was also interacting on the human side with his people. I still remember when he was coming in the garage every morning, saying hello to everyone, calling out the name also, and exactly the same again each evening. That’s something that, yeah, I still admire and was very inspirational for me.”
Mattia Binotto on the Williams sale:
Binotto: “If I think of Williams I cannot forget all the challenges we have as Scuderia Ferrari. Our history, Williams is part of the history, always a very fair battle, a very fair challenge. I think that Williams has contributed to the F1 of today. Williams certainly is an important name, an important family for our sport so somehow it’s maybe sad but it’s also important and great to know that the Williams name will remain in F1 for the future because I think, as I said, it’s really part of the history and as Ferrari we can only remember the great challenge we had with them.”
Mario Isola on the same matter:
Isola: “I agree with them. I remember Maldonado’s victory in 2012. It was our second year in Formula 1. Obviously I have a lot of fond memories as a Formula 1 fan but my direct involvement with them was since 2011. It’s great that the new owner wants to keep the same name. I hope they can keep the same passion. I read what Claire said yesterday to guarantee a bright future of the team. It is hopefully the right decision and I wish them all the best because they deserve a better future than the last couple of years.”
Here’s board members including Royal Family links
Here’s the full statement from Claire
Here’s news on Sebastian Vettel buying Williams car
Here’s Williams on sale to Dorilton Capital plus no Bernie Ecclestone links