It is being rumoured that Dmitry Mazepin, Belarus-born Russian billionaire and father of GP3 driver Nikita Mazepin is in talks with the Williams F1 Team with regards to a potential buyout of the Grove outfit.
Mazepin made an attempt to buy the Force India team in August last year, but ultimately lost out to Lawrence Stroll, father of ex-Williams driver Lance.
So disappointed was he at failing to buy Force India, Mazepin took the team’s administrators to court, citing a ‘flawed’ sales process.
Widely reported as being one of Russia’s 100 wealthiest people, Mazepin earned his fortune from banking, property and the petro-chemical industry and is currently owner of fertiliser producer Uralchem.
Like many Russian billionaires, he is surrounded by his fair share of controversy.
Mazepin allegedly approached Williams last month, with initial talks between the two taking place in Shanghai, venue for last weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix.
It was initially thought that Mazepin was in talks with Williams with a view to furthering his son Nikita’s Grand Prix career, but it was subsequently rumoured that the talks were in fact for the Russian to take a controlling interest in the team, fast-tracking Nikita’s ascent to Formula 1 in the process.
However, despite Mazepin’s interest in a takeover of Williams being confirmed by Russian news agency Tass, Uralkali – Russian chemicals giant of which Mazepin is the core shareholder and chairman – has denied that any such talks have taken place.
Claire Williams, Williams’ Deputy Team Principal and daughter of Williams’ founder Sir Frank Williams has always been staunchly resolute in the face of uncertainty around the future of the team her father and Sir Patrick Head founded in 1977.
The team is part of her family’s legacy, and she has repeatedly vowed to continue fighting until the team are again successful.
She clearly feels that it’s her responsibility to turn things around and that the burden of history is on her shoulders.
Knowing this, I find it very difficult to believe that she, or the Williams board, would agree to sell the team – in which the Williams family have invested so much in the 42 years since its inception: physically, financially and emotionally – to the highest bidder unless the its very survival depended on it.
And even then I think someone might have to prize the keys to the factory from her cold dead hand.
I think we should chalk this one up to media speculation.