Commercial Director 1979 to 1992

Sheridan Thynne

Sheridan Thynne began working for Sir Frank Williams' Williams Grand Prix Engineering in 1979 as Commercial Director, a role he'd fill for the next 13 years until leaving the team to follow Nigel Mansell - with whom Thynne had become great friends - to the US and Indycar.

Born into aristocracy, Sheridan Thynne’s interest in motorsport began brewing when a the father of a school friend – Peter Mitchell-Thomson, 2nd Baron of Selsdon – won the 24 hours of Le Mans in 1949 in a Ferrari.

(Where I’m from, if you had a school-friend whose dad owned a chip shop he’d be your hero – I suppose it’s a similar thing, just with a few more heraldic crests and Ferraris.)

Thynne passed through Eton before serving as a Lieutenant in the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry and then on to the financial services industry where he worked as a stockbroker. Pretty standard stuff for someone of his social class.

Thynne also liked to race cars in his spare time, competing in club events across the UK.

In 1962 he was to meet Frank Williams with whom he’d form a relationship – both personal and professional – that would last a lifetime.

Sheridan shared a flat with aspiring racing driver Jonathan Williams (no relation) and one Piers Courage in Lower Sloane Street, London. Frank, himself a would-be racing driver became very friendly with the trio and would bunk down on their floor between race meetings and travelling back to his then home in Nottinghamshire.

Despite racing in a number of series, and with some success, Thynne decided that his talents would be better suited to a more advisory role, and hung up his helmet for good.

Seventeen years of hard graft were to follow before Frank found himself at the helm of a successful Formula 1 team in need of a Commercial Director with a wealth of business connections to find sponsors for his burgeoning team. Sheridan fit the bill perfectly.

He remained in charge of the commercial side of the Williams Team for the next 13 years using his many connections to engineer and oversee sponsorship deals with the likes of Canon, ICI , Camel and Labatts amongst others, and as such was integral in the team’s success.

According to Mansell, he was also the man responsible for bringing him back to Williams where he would win his one and only World Championship.

Following the fallout between Sir Frank and Nigel Mansell that led to the Englishman leaving Williams as World Champion to embark on a career on the other side of Atlantic in Indycar, Thynne sided with Mansell and left Williams to join him, thus ending his long-term association with the team.

Upon retiring from the sport he took to hillclimbing, where he’d work with his son Piers (of course, named after his friend Piers Courage).

Thynne died suddenly in 2011 at the age of 71 whilst on holiday in Egypt.

“He understood motor racing and he understood motor racing people. He was a gem of a man, quite capable of always leaving you with a throwaway last word in Latin” Williams colleague and friend Peter Windsor said of Thynne on his passing.

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