Simon Roberts joined Williams in the aftermath of Paddy Lowe‘s departure, when a structural review suggested the team might benefit from a more holistic leadership role of Managing Director rather than appointing another Chief Technical Officer – the role vacated by Lowe in 2019.
Originally, Simon Roberts’ role was indented to provided support to to Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams (who was in fact de facto Team Principal – Sir Frank Williams retained the almost honorary TP title, being very much hands off), with Claire running the team on a day-to-day basis.
Williams founds itself somewhat light in the leadership department after Lowe’s departure, and Simon Roberts’ arrival strengthened the team in that area.
Simon began his automotive career with Perkins Engines Company Limited – a subsidiary of Caterpillar – and steadily progressed through the engineering and manufacturing ranks before joining BMW/Rover in the mid 1990s.
A move to the transport sector followed in 2000 when Roberts became Operations Director of Alstom Group, before his first foray into Formula 1 three years later, becoming Operations Director of McLaren in 2003.
A short spell as COO at Force India in 2009 season saw Simon Roberts oversee all team operations & car development before returning to McLaren in 2010, joining their exec team & some time later being promoted to Chief Operations Officer – the role he’d experienced at Force India – in 2017.
Having experience of both good times and bad at McLaren (world champions in 2008 to 9th in the WCC in 2017), Roberts brings with him a wealth of experience that should lend itself to a once-great team going through a tricky patch (understatement!)
Roberts’ latter years at McLaren – during which former MD Ron Dennis was ousted, the team changed hands, with Zak Brown arriving as Executive Director – should certainly give him the tools he needs to help Williams through the tricky few months that lie ahead.
Good luck Simon!