What the Williams family's departure says about the team's F1 future

The news that Frank and Claire Williams will step down from their roles at the Williams Formula 1 team is a clear sign of the team's future direction, explains JONATHAN NOBLE

What the Williams family's departure says about the team's F1 future

Few could deny that the imminent departure of Frank and Claire Williams from the team that bears their name is a sad moment for Formula 1.

Current driver Nicolas Latifi admitted that he had been "shocked" when first told of the news on Thursday morning.

While Williams has not enjoyed the most competitive of times in recent years, it has remained an important cornerstone of grand prix racing ever since its first race in 1977.

Its 114 wins, seven drivers' and nine constructors' championship titles are locked into the history books, and Frank's contribution to the sport as its longest serving team principal will never be forgotten.

But while right now is a moment of reflection for all that Frank and Claire have worked for, sacrificed and given to the team, the end of the Williams family era also says a great deal about where the Grove-based outfit goes next under the direction of its new owner, American investment company Dorilton Capital.

PLUS: Why Williams' sale marks the end of an era for Formula 1

The reality of their decision to step aside after this weekend is not one of walking away because they don't see a bright future for the outfit. Instead, it is a decision prompted to ensure that that is exactly what it has.

Claire and Frank had already taken the bold call to undertake a Strategic Review of its operations - which resulted in the outright sale of the team to Dorilton Capital.

That was already a big step for Frank, who had previously been reluctant to sell out in such a way when opportunities had come knocking in the past.

But it is clear that, in the scope of Dorilton's review to ensure it does what is needed to make the team a success, it wants to mark a fresh start for the operation and make some wide sweeping changes.

Under those circumstances, it would have been all too easy for Frank and Claire to resist Dorilton's efforts and try to cling on to their roles within the team.

But it had obviously become clear that if the Williams team was to maximise the opportunities it has under the new ownership and financial boost from Dorilton, then the pair needed to hand over the reins.

Holding back the tears in a message to fans on Twitter, Claire Williams admitted it had been hard to make the call to step down - but the future of the team was of far more importance than personal ambition.

"Obviously it's been a really hard decision, it's not been easy," she said. "The strategic review process culminated in us selling the team outright to Dorilton Capital.

"We know that they are going to be great owners of this team. They have huge respect for the history and the legacy. They are going to keep racing with the Williams name, which is going to be wonderful to see.

"And with the financial firepower that they have, I know that they can take this team back to where we all want to see it and that is at the front of the grid."

The message is clear: Frank and Claire have done what they think is best for the team.

A return to form for Williams would be good news for the team's fans, and F1 itself - which would benefit from seeing the famous name moving itself further up the grid.

There is one other certainty from the Williams decision.

For even after this weekend, as they take off their Williams uniforms for the final time, Claire and Frank will be just as committed to supporting the team and cheering on its success as always.

As Claire said on Thursday: "We will now be enjoying watching our team go from strength to strength in the future."

shares
comments
Williams drivers call family’s exit from F1 team "a sad day"

Previous article

Williams drivers call family’s exit from F1 team "a sad day"

Next article

Williams F1 announces new board members following family exit

Williams F1 announces new board members following family exit
Load comments
The key details the boosted Red Bull and held back Hamilton in Verstappen’s USA victory Plus

The key details the boosted Red Bull and held back Hamilton in Verstappen’s USA victory

As the 2021 Formula 1 title battle winds towards its climax, the United States GP added another thrilling act in the Lewis Hamilton-Max Verstappen battle. Although Hamilton aced the start, Verstappen and Red Bull took the initiative with strategy and were richly rewarded, despite Mercedes' best efforts as the race went down to the wire

US Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

US Grand Prix Driver Ratings

On a baking hot afternoon at the returning Circuit of the Americas, Formula 1 drivers were tested to their limits. As the pressure on the title contending squads reaches an ever-greater level of intensity, the foremost challengers again showed their class, but were outshone by a standout drive from the upper midfield

Why F1's misunderstood party animal will thrive in retirement Plus

Why F1's misunderstood party animal will thrive in retirement

Three years on from Kimi Raikkonen's last Grand Prix victory at Austin, he is now six races away from ending the longest Formula 1 career in history. His friend and former Ice1 Racing rally team PR man ANTHONY PEACOCK explains why there’s nobody quite like the 2007 world champion and why F1 will miss him (but he won’t miss it)

Formula 1
Oct 24, 2021
The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert Plus

The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert

It's 50 years since Jo Siffert was killed in his prime at Brands Hatch. The Swiss scored just two world championship wins in a Formula 1 career spent largely with privateer teams, but showed on numerous occasions in single-seaters and in sportscars with Porsche that he could beat any of the best drivers of his era given the right equipment

Formula 1
Oct 24, 2021
Verstappen exclusive: How Red Bull’s ace has become F1 champion material Plus

Verstappen exclusive: How Red Bull’s ace has become F1 champion material

As Red Bull and Honda go all-out for victory in the Japanese engine manufacturer’s last season of its latest Formula 1 dalliance, Max Verstappen finds himself thrust into a compelling title fight with Lewis Hamilton. He told OLEG KARPOV about his evolution into a world championship contender and why Red Bull's no compromise ethos suits him down to the ground

Formula 1
Oct 23, 2021
How Mercedes went from Austin practice domination to "very tight at the front" with Red Bull Plus

How Mercedes went from Austin practice domination to "very tight at the front" with Red Bull

Mercedes has been on a roll of late in the ultra-tight fight to win the 2021 Formula 1 world championship. It started off well in practice at Austin for this weekend’s US Grand Prix, but Red Bull got closer as Friday unfolded and even seemed to find an edge in one critical area of what seems set to be another close contest

Formula 1
Oct 23, 2021
The six critical factors that could hand F1 2021 glory to Hamilton or Verstappen Plus

The six critical factors that could hand F1 2021 glory to Hamilton or Verstappen

The 2021 Formula 1 title battle is finely poised with six races remaining, as just six points separate championship leader Max Verstappen from seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton. In such a closely-fought season, the outcome could hinge on several small factors playing the way of Red Bull or Mercedes

Formula 1
Oct 22, 2021
Can Whitmarsh appointment help Aston succeed where its F1 rivals failed? Plus

Can Whitmarsh appointment help Aston succeed where its F1 rivals failed?

Aston Martin owner Lawrence Stroll is determined to make the group a billion-dollar business. MARK GALLAGHER analyses his latest play – bringing former McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh into the fold

Formula 1
Oct 22, 2021