Hot on the heels of this morning’s announcement that Claire Williams intends to vacate her (de-facto) Team Principal role at the team her father co-founded in 1977, it has now been announced that the Williams family too will have no representation on its board.
Taking their places, it has been revealed, are Dorilton Capital’s Matthew Savage, Darren Fultz and James Matthews.
Of the three, the name that might mean something to fans of UK motorsport is James Matthews, who, along with being co-founder of investment firm Eden Rock, was once a promising racing driver with visions of reaching Formula 1, winning the 1994 British Formula Renault Championship.
If you’re a fan of the red-tops, you might also recognise James Matthews as husband of Pippa Middleton (sister of Kate Middleton, future Queen of England), and brother of that Spencer guy who rocks up on celebrity TV shows to make a clown of himself every now and again.
The other two – Fultz and Savage – I don’t know too much about, other than one of them has ties to the Rothschilds and they both appear to be absolutely loaded.
So there’s a certain amount of comfort to be gleaned from the fact that at least one of their number has an interest in motorsport, and having cut his teeth in the sport in UK in the 1990s, James Matthews is likely to hold the Williams Formula 1 Team in a certain esteem, which bodes well for its new owners knowing and respecting its heritage and standing in sport.
That being said, the guy they’re replacing is Sir Frank Williams with half a century’s experience of running a Formula 1 team and so unless the buyers turned out to be jointly Ron Dennis and Alfred Neubauer’s ghost, then their racing experience is likely to pale in comparison.
It’s quite obvious that Williams is at a significant fork in the road. One route could lead back to the front of the Formula 1 grid, and the other a very quick demise. And it all depends on the attitude of the new owners. If they respect the sport, the values of the Williams Team and the knowledge and experience of the people therein, we could be sitting here in three or four years time talking about Williams Racing as potential race winners.
Alternatively, if they come along like billy big bollocks thinking they know it all, lording it around the world on a “Formula 1 Team Owners’ Grand Tour” before writing the whole thing off, asset stripping and disappearing into the Kensington sunset then we could be in for a world of pain.
We await their announcement as to who will replace Claire Williams as Team Principal – this ought to be a good indicator of exactly how they’re going to approach the whole thing.