The 21st of August 2020 will be remembered as a momentous day in the history of the Williams Formula 1 Team as – after announcing earlier in the year that it was for sale/seeking investment – Williams Racing has today revealed that US Investment firm Dorilton Capital has acquired the team for a reported £136m.
New York based Dorilton Capital describe themselves as ‘a private investment firm seeking to acquire, recapitalize, and support the long-term growth of middle market businesses across a range of industry sectors. We seek control situations and prefer to partner with incumbent management to create value over the long term.’
“The team will continue to race and compete under the Williams brand, with the chassis name remaining unchanged. Dorilton has no plans to re-locate the team from Grove”, Williams said in a statement.
“When we started this process, we wanted to find a partner who shared the same passion and values, who recognised the team’s potential and who could unlock its power. In Dorilton we know we have found exactly that. People who understand the sport and what it takes to be successful. People who respect the team’s legacy and will do everything to ensure it succeeds in the future” Claire Williams added.
Matthew Savage, Chairman of Dorilton Capital, said “We are delighted to have invested in Williams and we are extremely excited by the prospects for the business. We believe we are the ideal partner for the company due to our flexible and patient investment style, which will allow the team to focus on its objective of returning to the front of the grid.”
Regarding personnel changes very little has been revealed at this early stage, although you’d assume Sir Frank Williams‘ 50 years in Formula 1 will be about to come to an end with the relinquishing of the Team Principal position he’s held at Williams Racing – Formerly Williams Grand Prix Engineering – since he and Sir Patrick Head founded it in 1977.
It would also seem likely that Claire Williams will be vacating her role as Deputy Team principal to make way for DC’s own man/woman.
It could also leave Nicholas Latifi out on a limb. The Canadian has a drive largely as a consequence of investment in Williams by his father Michael, and presumably the new owners bring with them a decreased reliance on other sources of funding (Latifi currently provides the bulk of Williams’ sponsorship via his portfolio of companies, but also provided the team with a sizeable loan at the beginning of 2020, secured against the team’s collection of historic racing cars – to be repaid in the buyout).
Hopefully Dorilton Capital’s motives are good, and this will lead to Williams’ F1 renaissance, after a number of tough years struggling to keep pace with the competition both on and off track.
I’m not sure how I feel about it at the minute. Dorilton Capital seem to be keen to respect Williams’ rich heritage with the Williams name, chassis naming protocol (FWX) and UK HQ are all to remain when they could quite easily have gone altogether.
However, the team’s DNA is certain to fundamentally change, and that’s quite sad.
But whilst poignant, it’s also tremendously positive news, for if Williams’ new owners realise that a successful team is a profitable one and that significant investment is required to breed success we could be on the brink of an exciting new chapter in the teams’ illustrious history.