These are uncertain times for everyone in Formula 1. Renault have cut around 15,000 jobs worldwide, McLaren – a much smaller operation – has announced 1200 job losses. There is even some uncertainty around world champions Mercedes’ long term future in the sport.
And, of course, Williams announced recently that they need investment to ensure survival, and that all options are being considered, including the sale of the team.
Even before the outbreak of COVID the sport of Formula 1 and those behind it acknowledged that something had to change.
Formula 1 is a sport currently dominated by manufacturers willing to spend $500m a season to compete at the front of the grid, happy for those without that kind of money to languish at the back, as much of their time spent keeping the wolves from the door as competing.
There was little urgency in forcing through regulations that would allow everyone to compete fairly, but that would indirectly compromise the ‘big hitters’ at the front, precisely because it would compromise teams with the big budgets. And as we know, money (more than heritage or significance) means clout.
But in the midst of the recent pandemic and with the potentially ruinous effect it’s likely to have patently obvious, there is now an urgency to force through changes that will give Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes et al a Formula 1 in which to compete.
And seemingly now alert to the risks involved in not embracing change, the big guns appear to be more accepting of a sport that isn’t quite so heavily weighted in their favour.
But is it too late?
Claire Williams, Williams Deputy Team Principal is confident that Williams – one of the teams most heavily impacted by the current crisis, with title sponsor ROKiT allegedly defaulting on a ‘significant amount’ of money owed to the team, with the difficult trading conditions brought on by the outbreak most likely a contributing factor – will be able to pick their way through the ruins of the 2020 Formula 1 season to a bright future in a fairer F1.
“I have every confidence that we will find the investment that we need” Claire told The Guardian.
“We’re making this decision to source inward investment in order to help us achieve everything that we want to, to help us fulfil all the plans that we’ve been putting into place and to drive us even further forward. It’s absolutely the right day to be doing this in Williams’ history.”
“We’ve had two bad years. Any team can have two bad years and it’s what you do as a result of those two bad years and learn from your mistakes and pull yourself up. To say that Williams has been in a long-term spiral of decline is probably slightly exaggerated or erroneous.”
Whether or not the team founded by Sir Frank Williams in 1977 will continue with or without Williams DNA remains to be seen.