We didn’t see it coming, it’s a shock- F1
There was a real sense that it’s the end of an era – a huge moment in F1’s history – in the Monza paddock when the news broke that the Williams family were leaving the team they have proudly run for the best part of 40 years.
So the family and board opened the doors to investors and sold the team – with Sir Frank relinquishing his controlling shareholding.
With the family leaving, who will take charge of Williams and what does the future hold?
In many ways Sir Frank Williams and his daughter Claire are the Williams Formula 1 team, so their departure, following the sale of the squad to a private investment firm, marks a sad day for the sport. Claire will remain in charge for the remainder of the Italian Grand Prix weekend, but what will happen after that?
The legendary team’s legendary owners will race one last time in Monza. One last time with father and daughter at the helm. One last time for the team whose humble beginnings were no match for its ambitions. 9 constructors’ championships. 7 drivers’ titles. 40 years. Their legacy embodies the spirit of F1.
We can’t quite imagine a Grand Prix without Sir Frank and Claire. But it’s a new reality we and all fans will have to come to terms with. So, what’s next for Williams? Well. The race must go on.
The new owners wanted Claire, who has run the team for the last seven years, to stay on. But the immense pressure she has had on her shoulders over the last couple of years trying to keep the team afloat has taken its toll.
Claire’s life has been Formula 1, from coming to a race track as a kid, to starting as a communications officer, rising up to Deputy Team Principal running the team on a day-to-day basis.
Claire will remain in charge of her family’s team for one last weekend – the Italian Grand Prix – before they step away for good on Monday after the race at Monza
What does the longer-term future hold?
Williams are now at a crossroads. The new owners have said the Williams name will remain in Formula 1 for the long-term, but the departure of the family is significant, so ingrained have they been throughout their illustrious history.
The challenge for the new owners is to maintain that heritage going forward, while adapting the model to cope with the financial challenges and help the team grow back into the dominant force it once was.
Who might head up the team?
There will be no shortage of options, either from inside or outside Formula 1. Over the last seven years, a number of big names have had discussions with the team about a move, but ultimately fallen through.
With significant investment now available, Williams are now a much more attractive proposition.
Dorilton’s next move is as important as it gets, as selecting the right new boss will be critical. It could make or break the future of one of Formula 1’s most famous teams.