Williams F1 team's Claire Williams puzzled by 'pay driver' slurs

Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams says she cannot understand the criticism surrounding Formula 1 drivers who bring financial support to the teams they race for

Williams F1 team's Claire Williams puzzled by 'pay driver' slurs

European Formula 3 champion Lance Stroll will graduate to F1 with Williams this season, following a rapid rise through the single-seater ranks funded by his retail billionaire father Lawrence.

Why Williams has backed the right horse

Stroll's financial support helped bankroll the Prema F3 team that powered him to the championship last season, during which Stroll underwent a development driver programme with Williams that mirrored the work it conducted with 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve before he joined F1.

F1 has often been criticised in recent times for promoting drivers with significant financial support over those with greater ability but less monetary might.

Williams said the loss of manufacturer backing and sponsors for many teams since the global financial crash of 2008 had changed the commercial model in F1, and argued the "negative connotation" around drivers bringing budgets to teams is unfair.

"With every driver in Formula 1 there are commercial considerations for any TP [team principal]," Williams said.

"[Fernando] Alonso comes with financial backing - maybe not personal but he attracts sponsors, Santander is there because of him; Jenson [Button] exactly the same thing; Sergio Perez.

"I don't understand why in this sport that is such big business, and where teams rely on having budgets in excess of a million sterling if they're to succeed, why there is such a negative connotation around having a driver that brings backing.

"And not only in Formula 1. Motorsport as a whole is such an expensive business - you don't get into the upper echelons unless you can find significant budgets to go racing.

"I don't know why people criticise drivers when they have financial backing, because if they didn't many teams in this sport wouldn't necessarily survive, and then the sport wouldn't survive.

"The commercial model in Formula 1 has changed.

"It's a much more expensive sport than it's ever been, so sometimes those situations are going to arise."

GIVE STROLL TIME TO PROVE HIS WORTH

Williams reckons those who consider it a risk for the team to be taking Stroll straight out of Formula 3 into F1 should "reserve judgement" on whether the 18-year-old has what it takes to succeed at the highest level of single-seater racing.

"Would you say the same about Max Verstappen and putting him in a Red Bull?" Williams countered when asked about Stroll's promotion.

"When it comes to Lance, I think out of courtesy we should reserve judgement.

"Considering his age he has achieved a huge amount - he's won every championship he's taken part in.

"Yes he's going to be a rookie, and yes he will make mistakes, but from everything we've seen he's a really fast learner.

"We should give the guy the chance to prove the talent, and prove he deserves the seat.

"We're a serious team and have serious ambitions - I wouldn't put him in the car if I didn't believe he could deliver."

shares
comments
Renault F1 driver Palmer expected even tougher 2016 season

Previous article

Renault F1 driver Palmer expected even tougher 2016 season

Next article

Formula 1's new owner Liberty Media could help British GP future

Formula 1's new owner Liberty Media could help British GP future
Load comments
The drivers that need to strike gold before F1's summer break Plus

The drivers that need to strike gold before F1's summer break

OPINION: Formula 1 is about to break up for summer 2021, with the title battles finely poised. But it’s not just the latest round of Max Verstappen vs Lewis Hamilton that will be worth watching this weekend in Hungary, as plenty of drivers are eying big results to change the stories of their seasons so far

How Lotus F1 uncovered, then squandered its last ‘unfair advantage’ Plus

How Lotus F1 uncovered, then squandered its last ‘unfair advantage’

Cast in the mould of its founder Colin Chapman, Lotus was powerful and daring but 
flawed – as it proved through further soaring peaks and painful troughs into the 1980s. DAMIEN SMITH examines a game-changing era

Formula 1
Jul 27, 2021
The core problems Yas Marina’s long-awaited tweaks won't address Plus

The core problems Yas Marina’s long-awaited tweaks won't address

OPINION: Changes to the layout of Abu Dhabi’s circuit aim to reverse the trend of insipid Formula 1 races there - the promoter has even described one of the new corners as “iconic”. And that, argues STUART CODLING, is one of this venue’s abiding failings

Formula 1
Jul 26, 2021
How Ferrari offered Britain's next F1 prospect what Red Bull couldn't Plus

How Ferrari offered Britain's next F1 prospect what Red Bull couldn't

Last year's Formula 2 runner-up Callum Ilott could be on his way to becoming the first Briton to contest a grand prix in an Alfa Romeo since Reg Parnell in 1950. But, says OLEG KARPOV, the Ferrari Driver Academy protege is having to temper his ambition at the moment – outwardly at least…

Formula 1
Jul 25, 2021
The signs that point to F1's rude health Plus

The signs that point to F1's rude health

OPINION: Formula 1's calendar might still be facing disruption as the pandemic affects travel but, says MARK GALLAGHER, the business itself is fundamentally strong thanks to the epic rivalry taking place on track and the consistent arrival of new sponsors

Formula 1
Jul 24, 2021
The unexpected benefit of F1’s sprint race repeat Plus

The unexpected benefit of F1’s sprint race repeat

OPINION: Formula 1's sprint race trial at Silverstone drew mixed feedback on Saturday, but there remained the true test of how it would impact Sunday's Grand Prix. While fans were busy marvelling at Fernando Alonso's progress, a key lesson was being learned that would directly contribute to the dramatic lap one clash at Copse the following day

Formula 1
Jul 22, 2021
The off-track considerations that led to F1’s Hamilton/Verstappen Silverstone shunt Plus

The off-track considerations that led to F1’s Hamilton/Verstappen Silverstone shunt

OPINION: Formula 1’s 2021 title fight turned ugly last weekend when Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton collided at the start of the British Grand Prix. Verstappen thankfully walked away unharmed, but this had been a clash long-since coming

Formula 1
Jul 21, 2021
Will 2022's all-new cars look like F1's concept model? Plus

Will 2022's all-new cars look like F1's concept model?

Formula 1 provided its clearest example yet of what the 2022 cars are set to look like when it presented a full-scale concept to the world during the build-up to last weekend’s British Grand Prix. Underneath the special shiny livery was a design that hinted at the future, but teams will be digging into key areas that may reap differing results

Formula 1
Jul 20, 2021