Nicholas Latifi, Williams, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020

Williams offers team for sale after £13m loss and terminates Rokit sponsorship deal

2020 F1 season

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The Williams Formula 1 team has announced the beginning of a formal sale process after its financial results worsened again in 2019.

Williams’ F1 revenue fell from £130.7 million in 2018 to £95.4 million last year. The nine-time F1 constructors’ champions, who finished as high as third in the championship five years ago, have ended the last two seasons at the bottom of the standings.

The group, which made a profit of £12.9m in 2018, posted a £13m loss. This was despite its technology division Williams Advanced Engineering recording an increase in revenue from £44.8m to £63.7m. Williams sold a majority stake in WAE in December.

The formal announcement of the beginning of sales proceedings opens up the possibility of a partial or complete takeover of the team which was originally founded by Sir Frank Williams in 1977 as Williams Grand Prix Engineering.

“The financial results for 2019 reflect the recent decline in competitiveness of the F1 operation and the consequent reduction in commercial rights income,” said chief executive officer Mike O’Driscoll.

“After four years of very solid performance in the FIA F1 constructors’ championship during which we claimed two third and two fifth place finishes, we endured a couple of very difficult seasons. We have implemented a significant restructuring over the last nine months and have strengthened the technical leadership team.”

While the 2019 financial results presented by the team paint a difficult picture, the challenges they face have worsened since then due to the pandemic.

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“The 2020 Formula 1 season has, of course, been disrupted due to the Covid-19 pandemic and this will have an impact on our commercial rights income this year,” said O’Driscoll.

O’Driscoll added the team has severed ties with Rokit, who arrived as title sponsor at the beginning of last season. “The team have also served notice to terminate its relationship with its title partner, Rokit, and major sponsor, Rok Drinks,” he added.

“In common with many other businesses, we have taken extensive action to mitigate, including a prolonged furlough period for much of our staff. As this awful global crisis recedes, everyone at Williams Racing is looking forward to the start of the new season.”

On Wednesday the FIA formally approved new regulations which promise to significantly reduce F1 teams’ costs over coming seasons. “There has been an enormous gap in earnings and expenditure between the three largest teams and the rest of the grid for a number of years,” said O’Driscoll, “but we are confident that Liberty Media’s long-term vision and plans, including a first-ever cost-cap for the sport, will deliver a more level playing field for 2021 and beyond, on which all teams can compete more fairly.”

The team said it has funding in place and will be ready to continue racing when the Formula 1 season begins.

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Dieter Rencken
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  • 105 comments on “Williams offers team for sale after £13m loss and terminates Rokit sponsorship deal”

    1. Oh wow. Really sad but perhaps inevitable. The stubbornness not to tie up with a manufacturer may be their downfall. I just hope that if they are bought then the name is kept.

      1. The stubbornness not to tie up with a manufacturer may be their downfall

        Can you tell more about that..?? And does it happened after BMW goes to Sauber..?

        1. @ernietheracefan Well Williams kinda pushed BMW away. Maybe BMW wanted too much. But honestly, how many relationships with Williams (drivers included) haven’t ended on less than amicable terms.

          1. bobec, BMW wanted to buy Williams out completely, which was something that Frank was not prepared to accept.

            Mind you, it has to be said that Sauber’s decision to sell to BMW proved to be something of a double edged sword when it came to the way that BMW ditched Sauber just a few years later – Sauber were pretty close to disappearing from the grid.

            1. @anon Yes I wasn’t thrilled with what BMW did. Even the second half of 2008 where they stopped going for wins and started concentrating on the 09 car, which turned out to be a dog. But I read years ago that Frank had some regrets about breaking down the relationship with BMW, so maybe there is something in the details and it didn’t all have to go happen they way it did?

      2. It’s amazing how some people stubbornly advocate manufacturers’ position in current F1 although they can say farewell anytime now.

        1. Indeed, I’ve always advocated manufacturers only being involved as engine suppliers.

          1. I fully agree with you here. I’ve also always thought that car manufacturers just come and go when it suits there board. So they should just supply engine and transmission only.

            1. Manufacturers bring their own agenda and the only loyalty is to their investors. If the bean counters at Mercedes, Renault, et al calculated that they could sell more cars by dropping F1 (or any series participation) and go top fuel drag racing they’d do it in an instant. F1 doesn’t seem to take that reality seriously and insists upon working under the idiotic assumption that what’s good for the manufacturers is what’s good for F1. I think F1 was spoiled by Ferrari’s legacy since since Enzo sold cars to go racing, but as Ferrari’s ownership structure has evolved post-Enzo, that legacy is transitioning rapidly as well.

            2. To play devil’s advocate though, are privateers necessarily that much more reliable than manufacturers? Manufacturers might come and go, but we’ve seen quite a few privateers go bankrupt or quit the sport over the years – the list of failed teams is quite a long one, and features a lot of those privateers along the way.

              There might be a romantic notion of the privateers who love the sport and will stick by it whatever happens, but is that how it actually plays out in reality and are they really more loyal to the sport or that much more sustainable than the manufacturers that are so often derided?

            3. Responding to Anon, it must be said that even if it’s true that we had a fair share of privateers that folded because they weren’t professional organizations ( ex: 80s and 90s no hopers like Life, Eurobrun, Andrea Moda…several of very good privateers folded due to the escalation of costs caused by the manufacturers who run the teams with deep pockets, so I stick with most of the others comments. I prefer 2 small well run privateers over 1 manufacturer .

      3. @broke84 hindsight is just a precious thing. As @ernietheracefan says, it didn’t do Sauber much good either. To think it was only able to compete in 2010 because Toyota themselves pulled off. It was very close for them…

      4. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
        29th May 2020, 10:23

        This is nothing to do with being stubborn or mismanagement.

        This is because is because F1 was riding a bubble which was bound to burst. The governing body is to blame. F1 is too expensive. The (flawed) budget cap is too little too late.

        If Mercedes are considering leaving F1 then what hope the rest.

        Will those how keep banging their ideological drums about how F1 needs to be the pinnacle of motorsport engineering regardless of cost just bite the bullet now and say they were wrong?

        I think this may be Bernie’s legacy.

        1. The budget cap isn’t a solution if the teams can’t even find the money to finance themselves in the first place. The big manufacturing teams have huge budgets for a reason. They have alternative revenue sources that help fund their racing operations. That’s why Ferrari started making cars, to finance the F1 team. In the end, it wasn’t good enough and he needed to sell to Fiat but it’s still a team with a big company backing them financially. The only thing the budget cap does is help level the playing field. If Formula 1 wants teams like Williams to be financially stable then they need to find revenue streams for them that don’t come from sponsorship or pay drivers.

        2. +1
          Frank should send Bernie a large invoice

          1. Frank helped Bernie steal the commercial rights away from the teams, so he deserves his team to collapse in the end. From the very first Concord agreement the teams should have been in toral.control of the commercial rights with the power to appoint a commissioner. All the guys who got rich supporting bernie in his divide a conquer campaigns can go to hell.

        3. @sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk F1 can be the pinnacle without the insane costs. It’s all in the regs. They ban stuff and slow them down, then the teams spend big $ to develop what they can to get up to speed, literally.

        4. Bernie saved Williams more than once. This is just the natural result of a family business poorly managed over time. They’ve done it to themselves.

          1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
            29th May 2020, 16:43

            I think you’re missing the point. Renault are wobbling, Mercedes are thinking about it and Haas are on the brink. True Williams may have been less than perfectly managed, but the direction of travel is obvious. Unless something very drastic is done we could lose more teams soon.

            Covid 19 has brought things to a head, but the underlying problem has been there for a while. F1’s sporting and business model is broken. There isn’t enough sponsorship cash swilling around for 20 cars. Bernie knew this and that is why he was so keen to get the manufacturers in. Some had deep pockets that he could pick.

            F1 can still be the fastest and the most innovative and cost much less. Sad times.

            1. @sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk Bernie knew this and that is why he forced the most distorted and unfair payment system ever?

        5. I agree with this.

          The funding from FOM doesn’t help either with the historic payment to Ferrari for example, the payments have been broken for decades and also the budget cap is years too late.

          This virus is not going to help either with companies cutting costs including advertising.

          I know this is off topic but I can see Renault going at the end of this season.

      5. @broke84 The McLaren name survives to this day. It will be a question whether the Williams name hasn’t become some sort of metaphor for slow, spiral, downfall, etc. in F1.

        I personally will remember them for their iconic innovative cars, but also for Imola 94 and their handling of it.

        1. As someone who doesn’t really like williams’ decisions in recent times when I first think of the name I still think about the insane 1992-1993 car, the car schumacher faced for the title in 1994 and 1995, and again extremely strong cars in 1996-1997, some sporadic race winning car in the early 2000s and a car that was in the 3-teams fight in 2003, I don’t really link it to the recent disaster.

          1. @esploratore and those are the cars that I meant by “iconic and innovative”. Also their 1st Turbo era cars.

            I think for me Williams haven’t really been existing in recent times anyway. Seeing them finish as “Williams-Renault” in 2013 only ahead of Marussia and Caterham was enough.

      6. Too clarify what I meant, the tying up to a manufacturer was vital. Claire Williams had the opportunity to purchase rear end architecture in the same way that Racing Point do. But they stubbornly talked about DNA of being a constructor and then were the last one to be using aluminium casings in their gearbox. Had they being less stubborn then the wonderful things happening at racing point would have been happening there. Their stubbornness cost them Adrian Newey who wanted to be a shareholder, and then they lost the financial clout of Stroll. They talked as if being Williams by name was enough to save them.

    2. I don’t understand why they are terminating their sponsorship deals? Surely they need the income in this time of crisis?

      1. Unless this was a rich energy type deal where the money never materialized, which is why they need to sell?

      2. @georgeod as we don’t yet know the full picture, perhaps it was a mutual agreement as Rockit are seeing zero ROI. They paid millions for worldwide advertising which they haven’t been getting.

      3. Based on the words “served notice to terminate” it seems that the sponsor wasn’t keeping to its part of the deal (i.e. payments), @georgeod

        1. @coldfly the context of ‘served notice to terminate’ depends on who served who. The way it’s been used is simply that Williams are the ones who have requested the termination of the contract.

          Could be down to payments from ROKiT, but it could also be that a) the contract stipulated a minimum agreed number of appearances at races before financial penalties were applied and there’s a chance that won’t happen now (could well have been something like ‘at least’ 15-16 races) or b) it could be that Williams just don’t want any long-term millstones around the companies neck that could slow down or prohibit investment.

    3. that is still a sizeable revenue.

    4. Ouch, huge huge ouch! I hope a solution can be found soon, for the sake of the team and its workforce.

      Along with McLaren’s announcement a couple of days ago, this is just the tip of the iceberg…

    5. Very very sad. I hope they do get the necessary investment, and if it is a full take over I hope the name is retained. I can’t help but wonder if this will fast track a Russell to Mercedes move (assuming Mercedes stick around) if Mercedes have a different working relationship with Williams moving forwards.

      1. Perhaps thats where the rumour of Bottas move to Renault comes from. Merc saves Russel from Williams and Bottas has to move.

        1. That’s a nice point

    6. Williams is a publicly listed on the Stock Exchange, so is the part being sold an unlisted portion of the company?

      1. If so then there is little left of the listed part; merely a minority stake in WAE.
        @drycrust

        1. According to Wikipedia, in 2017 the ownership of Williams Grand Prix Engineering was “Frank Williams (51.3%); Brad Hollinger (11.7%); Patrick Head (9.3%); 24.1% on the public market place; and 3.6% is held by the trust fund employee.” Assuming those levels are more or less the same, my guess is the part up for sale is that owned by Frank.

    7. I fully expected Haas to be the first one with the announcement out, so color me surprised

      so. three cars it is then from 2022

      1. We will never see 3 cars per team. As much as I wish we did, F1 never makes the right decisions so this won’t materialize either.

        1. Gavin Campbell
          29th May 2020, 14:50

          Why would you want to see 3 cars per team? Terrible idea, especially since the “alpha” pairings are out of fashion again.

          I’d maybe like to see a wildcard system once we have some costs under control but only 2 cars per team for regular entries.

          Very sad to see Williams up for sale like this, I assume this is due to it being publically listed they have to announce this.

    8. Claire Williams has to go down as the most catastrophically bad Team Principal of all time.
      Had her fathers legendary F1 team handed to her on a plate, ran it into the ground, did a bit of doe-eyed feminism, lost £13 million, sold the team.

      I was fortunate enough to visit Grove for a job interview once and was blown away by the amazing people at Williams. It is desperately sad to see their current plight.

      1. Johnnie Röös
        29th May 2020, 9:36

        Close but I would say kaltenborn with Claire a close second

        1. *Chuckles in Andrea Moda*

          1. Haha completely forgot about him..

        2. Kaltenborn saved a team abandoned by BMW and without an FIA entry.
          It is easy to speak from the comfort of your computer without having to make any effort to appreciate what it takes to keep a team with several paid staff afloat. She had negotiated a link up with Honda, that could have secured the team with investment for a few more years, that eventually went to TorroRosso and Redbull, after the team was taken over.

          1. Yes, I dont have a deep knowlegde on the case, but my impression is that Kaltenborn made the most from her time on Sauber. Every year the team seemed on the brink, but she come up with something.

            1. maybe she was just doing what she had to do, but I can’t think much good about a team manager that signs contracts with 5 different drivers for 2 seats.

            2. @lancer033 for what it is worth, Joe Saward does seem to have a more sympathetic attitude and suggested that van der Garde in particular was taking action against the team as part of an effort to buy the team out.

      2. I think it’s quite harsh. You’re practically comparing the age of technically skilled garagists which secured the Williams a succesful decade or two in 80’s and 90’s, with the current age of manufacturer molochs. Williams is hardly going to compete in this overspending environment.

        1. They seemed to be doing just fine until Ms. Williams took the reigns in the mid 2010’s?

          Of course, I am on the outside and might be talking nonsense. But in my humble opinion, I think she has been a complete and utter disaster.

          1. Agreed, the son was seen as heir apparent from an early aged, ticked all the right boxes on his way through the company, and was well respected and liked both in and outside the company. Then out of the blue daddy’s girl appeared. No idea what that was about.

          2. Their results for most of the V8 era were poor, typically finishing around 8th in the WCC – except for a few fluke years at the start of the current V6 era, they have been near to the back of the grid for a long time.

            Financial problems were not unknown either – there were more than a few rumours of Frank having to ask Bernie for advance payments to cover cashflow problems, and we shouldn’t forget some of the pay drivers either. Maldonado might be most commonly remembered, but figures like Nakajima were only there because of Toyota’s backing.

            It is easy to lump the blame on her, but Williams really have been poor for at least 15 years – even in the mid 2000’s, they were called archaic by their drivers (Webber in that case). It’s long felt like a case of when, not if, things would finally come to a head.

      3. According to Wikipedia Frank Williams is the Team Principal. Doesn’t the Team Principal report to the CEO? So surely lot of the responsibility goes back to the CEO.

      4. Deputy Team Principal on behalf of her father who is still the Team Principal and major owner of the team.
        She handles the day to day business, but the major decisions are still taken by Frank and the board of directors.

      5. It’s far too easy to blame Claire Williams, when she has never been allowed to fully run the team. All of the major decisions have been made by Frank Williams. He’s responsible for the many management comings and goings over the years. Franks sold his soul to Bernie when he sacked Adam Parr and it’s been downhill from then.

      6. @Ben I think theirs was a slow and gradual decline. Maybe she made it worse, I don’t know, or maybe she had no other way to go and it was all set in stone already.

        Btw, isn’t she officially deputy principal?

    9. A real shame. As likeable as Claire Williams is, the team seems woefully mismanaged over the last 5 or so years. While it’s mighty noble to have declared “we will never become a B-team”, perhaps they should have sucked it up, acknowledged their position and become (if only temporarily) an “Alfa Romeo”/”Toro Rosso” style team, biding their time until the cost cutting regulation changes. With the engine deal and George Russell, they’re a B-team in all but name anyway.

      The entire Stroll family debacle, followed by Paddy Lowe, followed by Robert Kubica and ROKiT just smacks of desperation and panic to me; they’ve been lacking strategy for years.

      I don’t have a “favourite” team, but I’ve always been very fond of Williams. I hope they find some way to save the team, the people, the name and the history.

      1. I don’t see the ‘Stroll family debacle’, @ben-n.
        It brought a lot of revenue/profit as well as their most recent podium finish and an entry into the record books.

      2. @ben-n This is not entirely Claire’s fault.

        It’s a result of nearly 2 decades of mismanagement dating back to the mid-00’s. Claire had the ‘fortune’ of inheriting the team after one of their worst ever seasons. Luckily, they took on the Mercedes engine in 2014 (ostensibly because it was the cheapest deal at the time) and it meant they could just ignore the problems, but their aero department had stagnated since the BMW investment disappeared, with several relatively poor cars churned out in succession.

        They survived on a glide path, protected by their heritage payments and ‘good enough’ results that kept the money coming in, until *poof* suddenly it wasn’t.

    10. To be fair, most of us expected this to happen last year. It was a well known fact that they were not so comfortable with their financial position.
      I wonder what happens now–would another team absorb its operations (highly unlikely) or someone new like Panthera might step in and build from thereon.
      Interesting times ahead but i genuinely think that F1 will have less than 10 teams on the grid come 2021.

    11. The sale of Williams is a very sad day for Formula One.

      I hope it’s someone as passionate about racing as Sir Frank, someone who shares the same philosophy as he, and perhaps even keeps the name and keeps Sir Frank involved as an honorary president or in a senior advisory capacity.

      Growing up watching Williams winning races and championships, often with British drivers at the wheel, I never thought I would see this happen.

      1. Passion doesn’t pay the bills. You need to be a shrewd business man with near-bottomless pockets or a engine manufacturer to make it work these days.

    12. The first domino to fall. Not the last I fear. F1 is in trouble.

    13. The Williams family are fully committed to the “independent” model of F1 teams. It’s a model that doesn’t work any more, a model for a different age, a model they have stubbornly stuck to despite all the evidence that it is no longer affective.

      The Williams team had made some strange decisions over the years, from sacking newly minted F1 champions because “they might ask for more money“ to sticking to steel gearbox casings and refusing help from Mercedes.

      The cracks were apparent before the Covid crisis in F1, a crisis that has brought poor management, and poor decision-making into focus in several teams.

      I hope that this brutal period of restructuring might lead to a healthier set of teams.

    14. Maybe its time for Vettel to buy his own team. Could call it Vettel/Williams Racing.. VW Racing for short :)

      1. VettlelWagen?

      2. 4 times world champions don’t make great team owners. See Prost, Alain.

    15. Of course the last time a team owned by Frank Williams was sold (/taken over?) it was by a chap called Wolf. Could history repeat itself? In fact does Toto Wolf[f] still have a stake in the team?

    16. Steve (@machinesteve)
      29th May 2020, 10:44

      Garagistas start sport – manufacturers move in – manufacturers demand teh corpretisation of the sport – garagistas cant compete – – manufacturers dominate – world changes – alternative fuel and electric sales soar – manufacturers lose interst in F1 – F1 brand is sold.

      1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
        29th May 2020, 10:51

        I’ve long said manufacturers are bad for the sport as entrants. They just drive up the cost. I grid of private teams would be much better as a sport.

      2. @machinesteve that’s not really an accurate representation of F1 though, as manufacturers were present right from the foundation of the series.

        It’s also really not true to claim that “corporatisation” of the sport was solely down to the manufacturers either – after all, it was privateers who introduced the idea of corporate sponsorship into the sport. Indeed, Williams itself played its own part in the corporatisation of the sport in the late 1970s and early 1980s through their acquisition of the Saudia group backing, which transformed it into one of the richest teams on the grid and was influential in the trend of big budget sponsors entering the sport.

        I know that there is an attractive story about how a supposedly “pure” sport was corrupted by those evil manufacturers and that we can go back to some sort of idyllic bliss if they didn’t exist, but real life never conforms to such simple narratives.

    17. Inside Latiffi Sr’s mind now: Should I buy it to save my investment? To keep Jr racing in F1? To show Lawrence he’s not the only Canadian who owns a F1 team? To show Claire how it’s done?

      At least Williams is on the market before Mercedes or Haas made their decisions. The early bird…

      1. Or Mazepin who seems desperate to buy a team.

    18. A casualty of years of unfair prize/TV money distribution. F1 has so much wealth, a team like Williams shouldn’t go under with the current global popularity of F1, or at least if it does there should be sufficient financial support for new teams to join. Sad day, but inevitable thanks to the last Concorde agreement in 2013.

      1. Williams have been part of that unfair prize distribution. They get their ‘heritage’ bung each year but have squandered it with bad decision making. Losing Newey and Head, getting Lowe and Sam Michael to mention a few, most before the tenure of the current CEO. After Hill won the 96 championship and got promptly fired, the decision making went in some strange directions and since then, the rot has set in. Its very sad but the patient has been ailing for quite some time.

      2. @john-h Lol and then to think that Wiliams were actually benefitting from this “unfair” money distribution.

      3. It’s true, they receive 10 million a year heritage bung which has been squandered, agreed. However the new base payments proposed for 2021 will be much more significant than this and should have been brought in years ago. I’m not excusing Williams, I’m pointing out that the changes to prize money structure should have been in place in 2013 to help all teams should they end up towards the back of the grid.

        Agreed about Sam Michael though :)

        @f1osaurus @mrfill

    19. Adam (@rocketpanda)
      29th May 2020, 11:51

      I truly hope they survive, as losing one of the ‘legends’ of the sport would be a terrible thing. I hope if they are rescued, whoever buys them or joins them to help them retains the Williams name.

      F1 needs to do more to protect these names.

    20. ‘Williams’ have made some odd decisions definitely, but the sport has made worse ones. F1 as we know it is in a pivotal position, and i’m not optimistic.

    21. I think this is all well planned ahead. The best time to sell f1 team is now. Well, the covid certainly doesn’t help but the new budget gap made f1 a lot more tempting for new owners. And with new technical rules introduction for 2022 williams can also sell that what-if really hard. Without the covid it would be perfect time. Buy the team now, enjoy reduced costs with no fears of costs suddenly increasing. And you might even have a chance to win in 2022. Well not really.. but basically really *wink*.

      Enjoy the show. These team sales always produce some funny results. Just google Prince Malik Ado Ibrahim and Mansoor Ijaz and have some fun.

      1. @socksolid maybe fun for you, but I imagine those within the team found such incidents rather less of a laughing matter…

    22. Williams held on to its princinples when it could no longer afford to do so.

      As despicable as it was (to them), the option was always there to buy more components from Mercedes. Build a Mercedes B car and atleast you wouldn’t be struggling at the bottom. Enabling one to build sponsorship relationships and the organizational structure for the future.

      As commendable and respectable Williams’ principles are, when you no longer can afford them its time to change your paradigm or walk away.

      1. = a complete failure as a modern f1 team, not reading decades of sport, political and economic environments. They survived because they were ‘rich white guys’. Good riddence

    23. And so it begins…

    24. RocketTankski
      29th May 2020, 14:24

      1980s Worldbeaters
      1990s Recordbrakers
      2010s Backmarkers
      2020s Thrustmasters

      1. 2000s challengers!

    25. I’m certainly interested, but Newey, Max and Kimi will have to come on board.

    26. Watched f1 since 1994, don’t feel sad for Williams one bit. They are a rich rich team, they wil only pull out when their revenue is still in the POSITIVE, which it id. F1 is a demented capitalist sport and no teams deserve pity if they drop out, it is all about money sadly in f1.

    27. Could Dmitrij Mazepin be the savior here?

    28. There has been rumors and subtext over the past few years that there are large systemic management issues at Williams. Is it the board?, is it Claire Williams?, etc. If Williams finds a buyer, there will likely be a large change in management, which might be just what the team needs. Similar to McLaren’s recent change in management structure, there would be a period of adjustment, but after that, they could be poised for a better future.

      I hope that they keep the name, though.

    29. MB (@muralibhats)
      29th May 2020, 17:06

      Why cant Liberty provide a loan to the team? Just curious.

      1. They already did.

    30. Rob (@newmanator)
      29th May 2020, 18:35

      Really maverick thought here but if you were Williams why on earth wouldn’t you just throw nostalgia into everyone’s faces. Hire two drivers who are well past their prime (yet with oodles of talent) for a relatively low fee, go full retro on livery, play safe on aero for stability and go from there. The marketing income alone would make up for most of performance related income .. don’t get me wrong the likes of Russell are probably the future but I’d rather see a veteran pairing mixing it up in the lower end of the grid and I think (preposition) that the cameras would too. Kimi and Fernando dare we dream..

    31. I am sorry to hear this news but I do have a bit of love/hate relationship with Williams. My view of the team has never really been the same since they sacked Damon Hill just after he had one the WDC. I thought this was an awful decision.

      I do wonder though if the team is the first one to fall in the whole house of cards that forms modern F1. I think the Covid-19 crisis has definitely brought matters to a head but I am concerned they could be the first of two or three team owners to call it a day. I really think the future of F1 is in danger. The huge costs of running a team in the sport have been way too high for too long and I think we could end with a situation where we are just left with the major car manufacturers.

      Liberty and the FIA have finally agreed a plan to try to do something about this but I think it might be too little, too late. Is a budget cap of $145 miilion really going to make enough difference to save all the current teams?

      If there is a long term future for the sport I reckon we could possibly be looking at three or four teams having to run three cars just to keep it going. Or more drastic changes to negate the huge costs e.g. more of spec type series. I hope I am wrong about all of this.

      1. They didn’t sack Damon. His contract expired at the end of 1996 and they didn’t renew it.

      2. Phil-f1-21 as Jules notes, it was a case of Williams not renewing Hill’s contract when it expired at the end of the season, rather than sacking him.

        What seems to have happened is that Williams seem to have signed a pre-contract with Frentzen in 1995 after the team became quite frustrated with Hill’s poor performance that year (with even Hill admitting it wasn’t his finest season). Hill then went on to surprise everybody with a much better performance in 1996, but by the time that happened, Frentzen had already informed Sauber that he would be leaving them.

        At that point, Williams felt it would be more of a disgrace to backstab Frentzen by cancelling his contract when he’d already committed to joining them, whilst at the same time they felt they couldn’t force Villeneuve out of the team as he was already signed to them – which resulted in them not renewing Hill’s contract.

        1. Ambrogio Isgro
          30th May 2020, 1:18

          Well, as I remembered Williams thought was that Frentzen could have been at Michael Schumacher level and that Hill and Villeneuve were not able to get out everything from their cars. Also Damon Hill as a World Champion wanted more money.
          For sure this was one of the reason (of not the mail) that led to the departure of Adrian Newey.

        2. So the word sack might have been too emotive, not to mention incorrect but I still think it was a bad decision.

          I do recall that there were quarters that thought Frentzen was going to be really good but I remember thinking at the time there was not too much evidence to back this up.

    32. Paddy Lowes car was the kiss of death.
      Covid was the final nail in the coffin.

    33. The tone of the announcement from Williams seems to imply that there is already some interest in the team.
      With Renault now clearly not being “for sale”, this could be part of the timing.
      Next run-a-way speculation exercise will be … Guess Who is in the market to buy an F1 Team.??

    34. In the end, there are probably many reasons for this but chief among them has been their failure to bring a fast reliable car for many many years.

      There are really two major reasons for this:

      Budget restraints – definitely the biggest one, but the reality is they had a bigger budget than quite a few of the other teams for quite a bit of the period that they failed to produce in. Their failure led to an increase in downward pressure on their budget, save for a small blip when they were flattered by having the Mercedes Hybrid PU in 2014/2015 before others caught up.

      Bad design/management – their decline can be traced a long way back and there have been some management names that have coincided with that, but I feel that their biggest problem is someone (possibly Sir Frank) being stuck in the era where some moderate budget teams could come up with astounding innovations that led to their cars being blindingly quick. You can’t blame them for hoping, but the reality is that the ability to come up with something unique has pretty much been quashed by regulations that are way too prohibitive to allow real innovation.
      Unfortunately these days, that approach doesn’t work unless you are a team with a huge budget that can afford to pursue an idea that might be worth 1 tenth. Williams were used to innovations that were worth 2 seconds back in their heyday and don’t seem to have realised that there isn’t the scope to do that any more and they by pursuing the “something different” path, they’ve lost 2 seconds which will take an enormous effort to get back.

      It’s sad to see but realistically this has been in the cards for years – Williams design philosophy and daring to be independent and different is no longer an option – there hasn’t been enough room in the regulations for that style for years.

      Hopefully someone will buy it and keep the historical name, but there would have to be a massive upheaval to get rid of the dead wood living in the past right through the organisation before it has a chance of moving forward.

    35. @rekibsn But who is the market to buy an F1 team? You’d be better off buying Grove and turning it into a supermarket, at least then you’d make money.

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