Motorsports aren’t an atheist issue and it’s horrible for the environment. But if others can talk about blockbuster movies….
I have been a Formula 1 fan for decades, since the days of Gilles Villeneuve. And at that time when I became a fan, the Williams F1 Team of Frank Williams was only in its fourth season, about to win its first World Championships (both the driver’s and constructor’s). So as a fan, it was sad to hear this week that the Williams F1 Team has been sold to a US investment group for €152 million. For the first time since 1969, there will not be a member of the Williams family on the F1 grid.
This was inevitable. Frank Williams is 78 and in failing health, which is saying something considering he spent the last 34 years as a tetraplegic after suffering a broken neck in a car accident, his teams winning seven constructors championships after the accident, including the year of his injury. He was always a driven man, pardon the pun. His daughter Claire Williams replaced him as team principal seven years ago. The investment group gave her the option to remain as team principal but she chose to step down.
The team’s failing fortunes are not her fault, but as the team fell further back on the grid, sponsor money becoming harder to find and no upturn in sight, the only options were selling the team or continuing into bankruptcy. I would rather see the team in new hands with a chance of turning things around (e.g. McLaren, Stewart, Honda) than for a historic name and team to end up collapsing from debt (e.g. Arrows, Shadow, Tyrell, Ligier/Prost, Penske, Toyota). The resurgence of McLaren and Racing Point (formerly Force India) and dominance of Mercedes (formerly Honda/BrawnGP) give the team and fans hope.
Sir Frank founded Williams in 1977 and turned it into one of the sport’s most successful teams.
But after a series of difficult years, the team was sold to US investment group Dorilton Capital last month.
Williams and his daughter Claire, the deputy team principal, are stepping down.
The team have won nine constructors’ championships and seven drivers’ titles, and dominated large portions of the 1980s and 1990s.
But their last win at a Grand Prix was in 2012 and for the past two seasons they have finished last in the championship. Financial losses last year led to the Williams family seeking new investment, and that in turn has led to them leaving the team to make way for new management.
Claire Williams said: “With the future of the team now secured, this feels like the appropriate time for us to step away from the sport.