Peter Windsor is one of the world’s most respected F1 journalists. He has a relationship with the Williams Formula 1 team that goes back 30 plus years, having worked with the team as Sir Frank’s sponsorship manager, rising up through the ranks to become team manager in 1991 before turning to broadcasting.
If there’s any journo qualified to have an opinion on the Williams F1 Team it’s Peter Windsor.
Which is why his latest blog in which he passionately delivers his take on Williams’ plight is depressingly salient and one that will (or should) cut deep with some of the key people within the beleaguered outfit.
In it he describes an alternative 2019 Williams reality where Sir Frank Williams‘ son Jonny had been given the keys to the shop in 2012 rather than his sister Claire Williams: current Deputy Team Principal (Team Principal in all but name – Sir Frank retains that title).
Jonny would have arrived at Williams Racing, after years dirtying his hands in junior formulae, latterly in GP2 with the iSport team founded by Paul Jackson and Gavin Bickerton-Jones with whom Jonny worked to run a team that would win races and championships.
They, according to Windsor, are racing people and that they were overlooked as successors to Sir Frank (in no small part thanks to Adam Parr – former Williams CEO and Toto Wolff – then Williams’ Executive Director) is, again according to Windsor, a travesty.
And a decision that casts a shadow over the Williams team to this day.
“Jonny was sidelined by the Williams board when succession was mooted. Instead, it was Jonny’s younger sister who was empowered to sign the cheques. The potential of Paul Jackson’s logic was replaced by an industry man”
“What could have been the racing pragmatism of Gav and Richard was supplanted by below-par drivers, then paying drivers – and then by the fathers of paying drivers.” Windsor says.
His impassioned outburst has clearly been prompted by Williams’ treatment of Paddy Lowe, to whom Windsor clearly has an allegiance.
“It’s [Williams] run by non- racers in F1 for the wrong reasons. They pay themselves well and they run a nice motorhome. Trouble is, they couldn’t even wring the best from one of the easiest and most talented guys in the paddock – Paddy Lowe”
“Paddy was backed into the Job From Hell – into producing and developing an F1 car while living, day to day, in a political and financial jungle. Paddy’s not a mobster in the F1 sense of the word; he’s a racer with as much to give on the technical side as he does on the commercial and managerial. The easiest thing in the world is to point to the performance of the Williams car over the past two years and to single-out Paddy Lowe for dismissal. But to do do so is naive: it’s the people at the top who have let Williams down”
So what drove Williams to choose the route they did, overlooking Jonny and his team to succeed Sir Frank?
In answering this, Windsor could quite easily be using Williams as a metaphor for the fundamental flaw that underpins many of the key decisions being made at the heart of Formula 1.
“Because it wasn’t political. Because it didn’t immediately spell ‘money’. And because it wasn’t necessarily about ego and power – It was just about racing, pure and simple.”
It’s all about the racing. Let nobody forget that.