It’s been a while since we had any proper Formula 1 news to talk about – COVID-19 has pretty much seen to that.
However, Williams Racing hasn’t been sitting on its hands, clock-watching until we’re all allowed to go racing again. They’ve made good use of the time to bring in a replacement for Paddy Lowe, who vacated his Chief Technical Officer role in 2019 after a dismal beginning to the season that set the tone for the team’s worst ever Formula 1 campaign.
It was clear from the weeks and months following Lowe’s departure that Williams weren’t going to be hurried into appointing a replacement, and completed the campaign without a CTO.
Indeed it’s taken over a year since Lowe began his leave of absence, and the team appointing a replacement (of sorts), having announced that former McLaren man Simon Roberts will be joining the team on June 1st.
Perhaps it’s an admission that the make up of Williams’ organisation was partly responsible for the woes of 2018 and 2019 that Simon Roberts won’t simply fill the empty CTO position Lowe vacated, but will assume a new role – Managing Director.
The Managing Director role is thought to be a more holistic leadership role with Simon Roberts taking “overall responsibility for the design and development process, racing, factory operations and planning” according to the team.
“Simon will bring enormous experience and knowledge to the Williams team, and we are delighted that he is joining us when we head back to work after this long enforced F1 shutdown” said Claire Williams, Williams Racing Deputy Team Principal.
“He will lead a highly talented team that’s looking forward to designing and developing the next generation of Williams F1 cars.”
Simon Roberts arrives with 17 years under his belt at McLaren, where he was Operations Director and subsequently Chief Operating Officer assuming responsibility for engineering and factory operations.
Williams will hope that Roberts will strengthen a leadership team in turmoil in the wake of a couple of disastrous seasons, and that his arrival will hasten their return to the sharp end of the grid.