Well, there you have it. Williams Deputy Team Principal and daughter of co-founder Sir Frank Williams Claire Williams has today resigned her position and with it ends the Williams family’s half-century long involvement in Formula 1.
It probably comes as a surprise to precisely nobody that – following last week’s sale of the team to US investment firm Dorilton Capital – Claire should decide to leave the team when her family’s ownership ends, and yet it still feels like another end-of-era moment in the illustrious history of one of Formula 1’s most iconic teams.
Claire will oversee the team one last time at this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, 43 years after Williams’ Grand Prix debut at the 1977 Spanish GP.
In a video released on social media this morning, an emotional Claire spoke about her initial wish to continue with the team her family built from nothing to a World Beating Formula 1 constructor, but that her decision to step back (important to note it was seemingly her decision – she wasn’t ousted), although difficult is the right one for the future of the team.
She said: “It is with a heavy heart that I am stepping away from my role with the team,” she explained. “I had hoped to continue my tenure long into the future and to preserve the Williams family’s legacy into the next generation.”
“However, our need to find inward investment earlier this year due to a number of factors, many of which were outside of our control, resulted in the sale of the team to Dorilton Capital.”
“My family has always put our racing team and our people first and this was absolutely the right decision. I know in them we have found the right people to take Williams back to the front of the grid while also preserving the Williams legacy.”
During her seven year tenure, Claire Williams oversaw a pair of 3rd place finishes in the World Constructor’s Championship, only narrowly missing out on a Grand Prix win or two in the early days of the turbo-hybrid era, but a string of tough seasons have seen the fortunes of a once-great team nosedive.
This, coupled with the changing landscape of Formula 1 that has made it increasingly difficult for an independent Grand Prix team to compete for wins and podiums rendered the team unable to combat the double threat of the withdrawal of title sponsor ROKiT at the beginning of the season, and the prolonged period of inactivity (and the financial pressures that come with it) as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sadly, as a consequence, Williams were forced to seek significant investment from outside, and after a period of deliberation, decided their best option, and that of the team was to sell up, lock, stock and barrel.
We await news of who will succeed Claire in the Williams hotseat – the first non-Williams to do so in the team’s entire history.