Managing director of Formula 1, former Ferrari team principal, double championship winning team owner and once Williams employee Ross Brawn has admitted that there is some concern at F1 HQ for the team’s current plight.
Williams Racing, one of F1’s biggest players since its arrival in 1977, has, until now, found itself helpless to reverse a backward slide that has taken it from potential race winners just four years ago to perennial backmarkers in 2019.
“We are very concerned [about Williams]” Brawn told Italy’s Gazzetta dello Sport.
“Williams have had a couple of very hard years and they cannot go on like this because they risk losing sponsors and drivers.”
With sixteen titles, Williams are one of Formula 1’s most historic names, and their loss, should it happen, would be felt throughout the sport.
One of Liberty media’s ambitions when it took over Formula 1 in 2016 was to make more of its significant heritage that many felt (particularly fans) was being binned in favour of anyone with deep pockets – organisations and territories alike.
Williams, along with Ferrari and McLaren are one of just three current F1 teams that existed pre 2000 (I don’t consider Mercedes or Alfa Romeo to be a continuation of previous manufacturer teams with the same name), and so its history adds greatly to the F1 story.
And just like if you were to take Monza, Spa or Silverstone off the calendar, ties to bygone eras that people often hark back to when bemoaning the current state of F1 its story becomes a lot more tenuous without Williams, and more difficult for F1 to leverage as a consequence.
Something else to worry Formula 1 is that the loss of its tenth team, and what would be the fourth team to fold in ten years without any new entries in return would leave the grid seriously short of cars.
The top bods at Formula 1 are all too aware of this and have lined up a raft of changes for 2021 that should help teams like Williams (ie. teams without a manufacturer cheat code giving them an infinite budget) compete on more level a playing field.
“I hope the new distribution of prize money will help them, because Williams is part of the history of F1.” Brawn added.
But of course it’s not just down to the rulemakers. Williams need to raise their game if they’re to emerge from the slump that’s blighted their recent history.
And the sooner this all comes together the better. 2021 anyone?