Sir Frank Williams is on chipper form today. Despite the permafrost that has seeped into rural Oxfordshire surrounding the team's HQ in Grove, FW is upbeat, optimistic, and - as always - looking to the future.
It is only fitting that Sir Frank's daughter, Claire, representing the next generation of Williams, has now emerged as a figure of increasing influence over the team's affairs.
Since April last year, Claire Williams has held a seat on the board, as director of communications and marketing, having been encouraged to step up by departed CEO Adam Parr. Last week it was announced that she has taken up the role of deputy team principal.
And who's to say how much power she will eventually wield? This is, after all, a family firm, founded by Sir Frank with fabled technical partner Patrick Head, and one loved by fans and the F1 fraternity for stubborn adherence to its core values.
What greater reassurance could there be for FW, looking to the future - as always - than the knowledge that his 36-year-old scion is in place to protect his legacy?
So much for business. They're still father and daughter, and the beam of delight that crosses Sir Frank's face when Claire enters his office tells all you need to know about the warmth of their relationship.
Claire sits at her father's desk, to his left, and brushes a crumb from his sweater. "You looking all right, pops? He's going to fire me after this..."
Could he, we wonder? "Legally speaking," Sir Frank answers, in that inimitable, insistent whisper, "but it's not going to happen."
"This is our first joint interview," Claire announces.
"Shall we hold hands under the table?" suggests Williams Sr.
Sir Frank Williams celebrated his 70th birthday last year © LAT
The easy banter is as disarming as it is genuine, but with Sir Frank set to turn 71 this year, the Williams duo know that we are keen to talk about succession.
They're more than happy to oblige - but only after Claire has batted the opener upstairs: "You can answer that."
FW: "I've been here a long time and succession has to be thought about carefully. It has to work. You can have a second chance, but it's very painful if you make a serious mistake. Claire has worked here for a number of years... three or four?"
CW: "Ten." [Delivered deadpan, with a hint of a raised eyebrow]
FW: "Time goes by when you're happy. She knows the company as well as I know it. She's a tough piece of work. She has no hesitation in giving me a hard time - seriously. She fights her corner and she's an ideal candidate.
"She's experienced and articulate from her years in marketing and she's done a really good job for the company, especially in times when our results have not made us particularly proud."
CW: "From my perspective, succession is quite a tricky subject, first and foremost because it's 'dad' and it's quite weird thinking about Frank not being here - and I hope that Frank's going to be here forever. He's doing quite a good job of it..."
FW: "It'll be me or Bernie first."
CW: "I think you two have got a standoff going on! It's a strange question to try to answer really because it's just not something we like to talk about. On a practical level Frank and I work, that's what we do.
"Maybe it's slightly irresponsible not to talk about succession, but it's much nicer to think that he'll be around forever and that he'll be here. Williams is Frank and the thought of him not being here is very difficult to deal with, but those are the issues on the table.
"I don't know whether other people see me in that position, but it's a really big responsibility and it's certainly not one that anyone should undertake lightly.
Claire and Sir Frank Williams
"If you were the son or daughter of somebody like Frank, you would want to be extremely sure that you were capable of taking over that mantle, because those are big shoes to fill and you'll have seen the situation before in lots of big companies where it hasn't necessarily worked out.
"But sometimes it does work and, if it does, then that's great and it's probably the holy grail. But from my perspective it's not something that I would go into lightly and whether I could do it, I just don't know."
Claire's modesty belies a resolve that those who work closely with her will tell you quickly becomes apparent in daily dealings. She's still grounded enough, however, to admit to feeling the weight of responsibility she has assumed in taking on the Williams mantle with a formal, board-level position.
"It plays on my mind, yes," she says. "The strangest thing is that Williams has always been in our lives. I have two brothers [Jonathan, 38, and Jamie, 30] and we are a very close family. Williams has been at the centre of that family for years.
"We don't really talk about anything else; motor racing is our lives, that's what we do. We've been by dad's side and let him go off and do what he had to do, to create what he's created. We're proud of that."
Sir Frank interjects swiftly to credit Patrick Head for his role in building Williams into a team that for three periods - the late 1970s to the early 1980s; the middle-ish 1980s; and two-thirds of the 1990s - were F1's dominant force.
At the start of this season (one that will bring Williams' 600th GP, at Silverstone) their scorecard records nine constructors' titles, seven drivers' titles and 114 GP wins.
Leaner times have followed, but Williams has carried out a restructure over the past two years, technical and commercial, and the on-track promise of 2012 has borne a mood of optimism.
Always, though, there's that legacy to live up to, along with the responsibility of steering a company employing 550-plus people. For Sir Frank, this has been the 'day job' for so long that he has no concept of how an unpressurised nine-to-five might feel.
For his daughter, the experience is subtly different: from watching and absorbing how that kind of existence is managed, to suddenly being one from whom guidance is sought.
"Over the years there's always a question around the table with mum: 'Have we got the money to go racing next year?'" says Claire.
Claire Williams with Toto Wolff at the 2012 Chinese Grand Prix © XPB
"Now I've got the responsibility of that pressure; to get the budget in. But whenever I've seen Frank, there has never been a time where there's panic that we're not going to make the next season."
With conspiratorial hush Frank smiles: "If you look under 'I' in the dictionary you'll find the word 'irresponsible'..."
This prompts a knowing admission from Claire: "Maybe I've inherited a bit of irresponsibility. Maybe because Frank did that role in the past, it proves it can be done, so with hard work and luck those deals will come through and we can keep going racing."
That last could have come straight from the mouth of her father, a very English understated pluck. It must make a father proud...
"I try not to be very proud," says FW, flashing Claire an indulgent grin. "I try to look at her as another employee - that's hard to do of course. But she's been here quite a while and she's extremely competent.
"Her mother [Virginia] is a remarkable woman - I wouldn't say 'tough' as that's very unfair - but her father was amazingly successful. Shrewd, clever businessman - that's in the genes, no question! But Ginny is remarkable. She's put up with me for 40 years and it's a great achievement.
"Claire has got a lot of her mother in her and some of me, and I've not the slightest doubt that she'll steer the ship successfully."
Obligation, duty, maybe destiny - all these words could be applied to Claire Williams' assumption of board responsibilities. It's clear, though, that things might easily have been different.
"As kids we didn't go to many races," she recalls. "I remember going to Silverstone and that was a really big treat, but it was very much considered 'Frank's workplace' and it wasn't appropriate to bring your wife and children to work."
Never, says Claire, was there any discussion of her or her brothers working for the team - indeed, mum and dad were keen for their children to 'do their own thing'.
"I really wanted to," she says, not entirely convincingly, "but it didn't quite happen. I think to myself now, what else would I do? Then I can't think of anything that would be better than this."
Claire says her path into F1 was more accidental than planned out © XPB
Sensing a confessional moment, dad asks daughter: "Do you think about legging off once in a while?" "I do, sometimes, when you've given me grief!" announces Claire.
For all the lightness of tone, a serious undercurrent runs through the conversation and there's no doubting Claire's sincerity when she speaks of wanting to "pay back" into the team with which she and her family have enjoyed high times as well as low.
"Things have happened in the business in the past 18 months that mean there's a vacuum to fill and some people have looked to me to do it," Claire says. "And you do feel, 'If I don't do it, then who else will?'
"It might sound naff, but Williams has given us a really nice life and it's important that we contribute to paying that back. This is our responsibility: you can't just sit back at home and reap the rewards of someone else's hard work."
Overcoming a reluctance to ask other people (ie sponsors) for money was an early challenge - now conquered - but there's still one outstanding issue to be resolved.
"Do you find it difficult to ask for a pay rise?" we wonder...
"Yes! I'm not very good at asking for money. I wasn't able to ask mum and dad for pocket money when I was a kid."
How times change.
To continue reading this feature, join Autosport Plus today.
Are you an Autosport magazine subscriber? Activate your online account
- Your Autosport Plus membership includes:
- Unlimited access to Autosport's news - no monthly cap.
- Read the best motorsport features, analysis and opinion.
- Explore Forix, our comprehensive motorsport stats database.
- Choose from a monthly or yearly membership.