Following the sale of the Williams Formula 1 team to an investment firm, Claire Williams will step down as deputy team principal following this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, the team confirmed via press release Thursday. This effectively ends the Williams family’s involvement in running the team.
“It is with a heavy heart that that I am stepping away from my role with the team. I had hoped to continue my tenure long into the future and to preserve the Williams family’s legacy into the next generation,” Williams said in a statement.
The team was founded by Claire’s father, Frank Williams, in 1977 and has remained under the family’s control until now. Claire Williams was named deputy team principal in 2013, allowing her to take over day-to-day operations while her father kept the nominal title of team principal.
Williams is one of the oldest and most successful teams on the F1 grid, with nine constructors’ championships and seven drivers’ championships. But the team is now a shadow of its former self. It hasn’t won a race since 2012 and hasn’t scored a podium since finishing third at the 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Williams FW43 Formula One race car
Williams finished dead last in the 2019 constructors’ championship, scoring just one point, and is unlikely to better that performance this season.
The poor performance resulted in a decline in profits, with Williams reporting a 2019 loss of about $16 million at current exchange rates, down from a profit of about $17.1 million in 2018. The team also lost title sponsor Rokit just before the start of this season. It undertook a strategic review in May, and ultimately negotiated a sale to United States-based investment firm Dorilton Capital for $179.5 million.
“I have taken the decision to step away from the team in order to allow Dorilton a fresh start as the new owners,” Claire Williams said.
Dorilton hasn’t discussed its plans for the team, but Williams did recently sign the new Concorde Agreement, committing it to F1 through 2025. The agreement, which has been signed by all 10 teams, sets a direction for the series, which in this case includes substantial rules changes and budget caps intended to decrease the gap between the richest teams and the rest of the field.