George Russell, Williams, Silverstone, 2020

Williams name to remain in F1 as team is sold to US company Dorilton

2020 F1 season

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The Williams team has been sold to American private investment firm Dorilton Capital in a deal which will see one of Formula 1’s most famous names remain in the sport.

Deputy team principal Claire Williams said the team’s sale was “the end of an era for Williams as a family owned team”. It was founded by her father, Sir Frank Williams, in 1977.

In a statement the team said the sale “received the unanimous support of the board of Williams, including Sir Frank, who determined the transaction delivers the best outcome for the company’s shareholders and secures the long-term success of the Williams Formula 1 team.”

Williams’ identity will be preserved through the takeover. As well as its historic name, the team will remain at its current premises in Oxfordshire, UK and retain the ‘FW’ chassis naming convention.

Williams announced in May it was beginning a strategic review aimed at securing more investment for the team. The nine-times constructors champions slipped to last in the teams’ standings in 2018 and 2019.

“The strategic review was a useful process to go through and proved that both Formula One and Williams have credibility and value,” said Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams. “We have now reached a conclusion and we are delighted that Dorilton are the new owners of the team.

“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.

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“As a family we have always put our team first. Making the team successful again and protecting our people has been at the heart of this process from start. This may be the end of an era for Williams as a family owned team, but we know it is in good hands.

“The sale ensures the team’s survival but most importantly will provide a path to success. We are enormously grateful to Dorilton for the faith they have shown in our team and we look forward to working with them now.

“I would also like to thank the Williams Board and our advisers who have worked tirelessly over the past months to make this happen and our employees who have remained steadfastly loyal.”

The announcement of the team’s sale comes three days after it confirmed it had signed Formula 1’s new Concorde Agreement, committing it to remain in the sport beyond the end of the season. Williams believes the new deal presents a fairer financial deal for independent constructors.

Dorilton Capital chairman Matthew Savage said the firm are “extremely excited by the prospects for the business” and “look forward to working with the Williams team in carrying out a detailed review of the business to determine in which areas new investment should be directed.”

“We also recognise the world class facilities at Grove and confirm that there are no plans to relocate,” he added.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 95 comments on “Williams name to remain in F1 as team is sold to US company Dorilton”

    1. Wow, they found someone. Good for them.

      1. Not a bad time to invest in secondary team given the budget cap and new Concorde agreement.

      2. This might be an undercover Roger Penske’s acquisition. He is on a shopping spree, after all…pure speculation on my side.

    2. Glad to see the team has managed to ensure survival, I personally don’t care that much for heritage in names, but knowing the people there will continue to have a job in F1 with hopefully more of a fighting chance going forward is absolutely wonderful news.

      1. It seems to be Dorilton @hohum, as also mentioned in the Williams press release.

        1. @bascb, Yes, thanks, Keith’s fixed it.

    3. What share do they control and can they change senior team members.

      1. @njf03 There’s no controlling share. The team was sold in its entirety.

        1. but it is a public company , family only owned 51% ; what about the other shareholders ?

    4. How many years do they have to keep the Williams name to keep any prize money?

      1. @optimaximal if this is a reference to the racing point situation, then that’s a slightly different case as racing point set up as a completely different legal entity, but purchased the assets of force India. Whereas William’s have sold the legal entity itself. A subtle difference, with practically no real-world differences but quite a substantial difference on paper.
        The prize money goes to the legal entity regardless of name, so from that point of view they dont need to keep the name at all.

        1. That is not quite true though @minnis. There ARE limits on renaming the team, if you do it too soon, I think you need agreement from Liberty, the FIA and if I remembe correctly, also from other teams. It was the reason why Sauber ran as BMW even after the manufacturer left, because changing the name then would have meant losing out. It also was for one year of Spyker, I think before the Force India name was used. So it makes perfect sense that @optimaximal asks.

          I would guess in this case they would have agreed on a certain period of time (5 years?) in their contract where the original name has to be kept, although it is possible that the new buyers see PR value in that name and want to keep it on. And yes, it also makes sense to keep it on for another few years to ensure their rights to the F1 money, although I’d think that Williams not having changed names in the last decade or so would make it viable for a name change and there is also the route of convincing the others to go along too.

          1. well in about a year its Doritos F1 team ( or any other brand that buys the name)

          2. Part of that (Sauber BMW) might have had something to do with timing. As I remember, the deal was done after a cut-off time. Therefore the name couldn’t change for the upcoming season. It had to wait until the following season…

        2. @minnis it’s not a reference to RP, but more as to how Bernie wrote all the old contracts to allow him to avoid paying out winnings to smaller teams if they couldn’t sustain themselves.

          Teams have to lodge name change requests years in advance with agreement from rivals. This is why, for example, Sauber continued as BMW Sauber for a year in 2010 after losing their backing and having a Ferrari engine in the car.

          I can almost guarantee that the Williams name will be gone the moment they’re not due any winnings from previous years. It will also depend whether Williams will retain their heritage payments now they’re not ‘the same team’…

          1. @bascb there with the quicker fingers!

            1. Correct about the name change.
              But I doubt a private investment company is going to change the name. Whatever they paid, most of the value will be in the name given that all tangible assets have put up as guarantee against the various loans.

            2. @bascb @optimaximal fair enough, I stand corrected!

          2. Why are you so sure they’ll change the name?

            1. Good question, why indeed, Williams is a brand, investors value brands they can re-build or milk for all they’re worth.

            2. @hohum So was Sauber (granted, not as successful, but also a pretty long-lived F1 name that was respected and loved enough to get a second wind when BMW dropped out).

              Then it was gone the second they needed a place to plaster another name on top for marketing reasons.

            3. @optimaximal BMW kept the Sauber marque in their name – it was always BMW-Sauber, not just BMW – so the marque was still active in those days. Even in the case of the branding deal with Alfa Romeo, the Sauber name did not immediately vanish either – both the official team entry name and the official constructor kept the name of Sauber in 2018.

              It could be said that the Sauber marque is a respected name, but as others have noted the greater historical success of Williams does mean that it is likely quite a bit more valuable than that of Sauber. It may go, but I don’t think it is quite as certain to be sold off as perhaps you suggest it is.

    5. I am not sure a capital investment firm is the right owner for Williams. Ultimately they want to have a return of investment, but is that still possible in F1? Are they willing to invest tens of millions to rebuild the team or is this about grabbing some prize money and liquidate it?

        1. Maybe, maybe not. I agree that this type of Private Investment company is not buying Williams for the love of the sport (not sure they understand or care for the sport at all). But instead of looking for immediate ROI, they me be looking a securing funds for a multi year period of time in the hope that the value will increase over time. In fact in these troubled times where markets have taken a dive and a lot of uncertainties exist, you might want to diversify your assets and potentially target industries that you believe are not at risk not loose too much value. I don’t think they will inject money in the team, but they might give a hand (have Williams benefiting from their network) to find sponsors.

          1. Good post. Williams has been bought for a song. Bang in 100 million, hire a new team principal, get some points on the board, then flog the outfit to a manufacturer (or ambitious billionaire) in 5 years’ time.

      1. My concern also, mind you with the reduced funding model planned for F1 teams, maybe there is scope for profit within a racing team on the horizon, but then that begs the question, couldn’t Williams have held out for that cost capping.

      2. Maybe under the new budget cap and increased prize money distribution to smaller teams, they do see a business model to make a profit?

        Although Williams would probably be losing their bonus too, so not sure if the prize money changes really help.

      3. All commercial companies and most charitable companies want a return on investment either in money, value or benefits.

      4. They are an investment company- their job is to invest in a product and get a greater return back when they sell it. They will add value to this company by restructuring management and streamlining the engineering. Once the team looks like it has got potential they will sell it to an Lawrence Stroll type enthusiast. They are not in business of making money in F1.

        1. You may be right with that as they don’t appear to have the financial clout to invest in F1.

          1. Raveen Dhanapalan
            21st August 2020, 15:39

            Looks like an another genii capital, these investment companies never run the teams in the long run, simply sell them off in future for profit, I don’t think they will be ready to invest money for williams to be successful

      5. @d0senbrot There are capital investment firms that will actually invest to grow a business, normally through increase in share price rather than asset stripping through dividends, Liberty (Media) being a prime example.

      6. @d0senbrot Yes for sure they are looking to flip it, but Williams had to take what they got. Lucky to get something really.

      7. The best way to make a small fortune in F1 is to start w/ a large one.

    6. a partner who shared the same passion and values, who recognized the team’s potential and who could unlock its power

      I can’t see what value they had in common unless the deal included the Williams Advance Engineering. At least with WAE both had expertise in mining. Other Dorilton Capital investments seem so focus on industrial maintenance and repair.

      1. @ruliemaulana Williams Advance Engineering is already gone to a mob called EMK Capital.

      2. The value they had in common was the sale price.

    7. I fear for the future of Williams.
      I never thought Frank would ever sell.

      1. Obviously even Frank has realised that he’s but a name these days.

    8. Say what you will about the leadership of Williams, but at least you knew their goal was to win the world championship however unrealistic that was

      My worry is that we just have another team in F1 now who’s only goal is maximum return for minimum investment even if that’s just settling for the back of the grid

      That it will have the Williams name attached is just sad

      1. @philipgb Well that is also Liberties aim $$. To be honest F1 has been an entertainment business for some time.

    9. Wow, I’m slightly shocked that the buyer wasn’t Mazepin Sr, especially since his son is performing pretty good this year.

      1. Jose Lopes da Silva
        21st August 2020, 10:26

        More than that, I’m quite relieved and happy!

    10. I guess the Future of the Williams name will be viewed the same as the McLaren brand.
      How much of Bruce McLarens history is in the current team?

      1. 0. The current team is all Ron Dennis’ and a little bit of Teddy Mayer’s.

    11. But will Dorilton always know which side the bread is buttered on, as Frank did?
      Will they know when to throw in their support and for whom?
      And will Frank and Claire maintain roles as consultants or are they already on board yachts in the carribean?

    12. I read that as Doritos Capital the first time. I wonder how they are gonna manage to turn Williams in a for-profit operation, given it has been a money-pit for many years.

      1. @paeschli Wouldn’t be the first time a company has been used as a tax wright off. Maybe in the US sports teams can be used that way.

      2. Doritos Capital, it’s what companies crave! — Founder and CEO Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Camacho

    13. An investor firm does not come to stay. It is more like a bridge between the more immediate needs of one (Williams) and future prospects that may take some time to come (it’s been said there was a lineup of entrants before 2020 pandemic…).
      So the investor pays X and sell it for X+whatever when things settle down.
      It’s only after that the Williams name and staff will be at risk.

    14. While “private investment firm” is rarley good news, this could have been so much worse, for now at least.

    15. Maybe this particular investment firm will turn out not to be a bunch of lecherous vampires sucking a company dry before discarding the remnants… as Murray Walker would say, anything can happen in F1, but it’s very sad to see what was once a true racing team end on a vomitous corporate whimper of ‘delivering best outcomes for shareholders’ – barf.

    16. Dorilton will be looking for a new team principal and other senior staff. Wonder where they will look?

    17. I read that Giancarlo Minardi’s 1 regret on selling his team was allowing the name to continue. Williams wasn’t the team that it was even in Mark Webber’s day, let alone now. I remember the point in time when I realised Williams were “my” team rather than just the team that Nigel Mansell drove for (when Riccardo Patrese’s radiator burst in Rio).

      At least with this deal I won’t have to hear Claire talking about heritage & DNA every 5 minutes, gawd bless her. Good luck to the family and Patrick. They should have sold to BMW in early 2000s.

      I wonder how this stacks up with Mr Latifi’s loan for cars and property, and Jr’s ride next year (was it confirmed? I’d lost interest).

      1. It’s not mentioned in this announcement but both drivers are contracted for next year, although we know contracts aren’t worth much in F1…

      2. Sold to BMW!!!
        Look at how Monisha almost went crazy trying to keep Sauber afloat after BMW pulled out buying the team.

        1. She even had to sell the same race seat to three different drivers.

      3. Not George, as others have noted, would it necessarily have been a good thing if they’d sold up to BMW?

        The way that BMW dumped Sauber – initially trying to sell the team to what appears to have been a group of fraudsters, and leaving the team in major financial trouble after failing to submit an entry in time, meaning Sauber had no TV payment rights (Bernie reportedly bent the rules to allow Peter Sauber to get some payments) – almost destroyed Sauber. Basically, if Toyota hadn’t pulled out as well, Sauber would have disappeared from F1 as a result – if Williams had been bought by BMW and then dumped in a similar manner, there’s a good chance Williams might well have ended up vanishing from the grid because of that.

    18. Does Toto own shares in the new owners of Williams?
      Not a frivolous question….

      1. NeverElectric
        Not in the US firm no. Williams, don’t think so family owned business prior to this.

    19. Possibly been purchased as a tax wright off? Certainly not in line with the other companies they own or the products they sell. One thing for sure they will be wanting results sooner than later, I wonder how much control they have. I also wonder how much homework/due diligence they and Williams have done prior to the signing.
      I had a quick look and they are not very big with an annual revenue of around $15 million, this could be interesting.

    20. someone go find Jonathan and give him a hug

      1. Jack (@jackisthestig)
        22nd August 2020, 6:11

        I imagine he will be the one to stay on running Williams heritage

    21. Pump and dump. Nothing more nothing less. Most likely predicated by the prospects of financial relief and the potential of profitability provided by the new Concorde agreement. I can assure you the only Williams family member who will remain will be Jonathan as he will tasked with purging the heritage cars. Name will change as soon as a branding partner is secured. as the name means little outside of the UK.

      1. This man knows his private equity ^

    22. Well well, how far did we came from Claire saying that she would die instead of selling the company.
      Pretty sad that we can’t discuss anything about Claire being a huge letdown since she became the head of the team, as people on both sides tend to make a gender issue about it.
      Remember that this is a job she didn’t want in the first place, and it shows.

      1. @leventebandi I think it’s fair to discuss Claire’s record, providing it’s kept in the context of the role and isn’t dragged into the gutter of ‘she’s a woman’. At the end of the day, the entire team has been on a glide-path since losing BMW’s money and everything needs to be framed in that context.

        1. This is all about her being a woman. The same with the old Sauber boss. There are lots of failed male F1 bosses, but they are never dragged through the mud on this site quite like these two women are. The British are a misogynistic lot and we see it here on this site in all its ugliness every day.

          1. What a preposterous claim. Claire has no business being in ANY C-suite because she has no idea what she is doing. That has nothing to do w/ her gender and everything to do w/ the quality of her character. Stop deflecting and making up nonsense.

          2. Pretty sure given the poor Williams performance she’s been treated a lot nicer than Abitboul and Steiner on here tbh. Virtue signalling much…

          3. I’m pretty sure no one is pulling punches about the leadership at Ferrari, or McLaren in previous years, or Renault

            I’m sure some percentage of people have a grievance with the simple fact they are women, but the majority of the criticism they get is no different in tone to the other teams I mentioned

    23. How many American business teams does this make, now? Aside from the product placement team of Haas?

    24. An unknown ‘private investment firm’ really doesn’t sound good. They’ll put in some bridging loans, stable the company, ‘streamline / lay off’ what they can and hold out for someone who’s willing to pay more. I get that Williams must be desperate, and perhaps there was no other choice, and that’s exactly how these firms work, come in when the company is 10 mins from locking the door for the last time.

      Sadly, the new Concorde, if they’d had had enough to continue, could have been their saving grace (in theory).

      Williams have made many plenty of poor decisions in the last 15 years to arrive here though.

    25. Claire Williams was a disaster. Ran that team off a cliff. In the end Frank Williams would rather sell than have his team tarnished anymore.

      Really she should have stepped aside long ago had no business running an F1 team.

      1. Well, firstly, Claire is the deputy team principal, she still worked under her father. Secondly, she wasn’t the CEO of the business either – that’s Mike O’Driscoll. She was just the public face of the race team as her father’s age and disability meant he was unable to attend races outside the UK.

        Thirdly, there’s the fact that successive heads of the business for the last 2 decades have been unable to steady the ship or kill the rot.

        But blame Claire, possibly because she’s a woman, right?

        1. Yep, any mention here of females in the racing world brings out the cavemen…sad.

          1. This has NOTHING to do w/ her gender. She has a proven track record of terrible decisions. She has no business being in the position she is in.

            1. Could day the same about Guenther Steiner but I don’t see anyone calling for his head.

            2. You know NOTHING about the internal goings on at Williams; do you ?

    26. The phrase “American Private Investment Firm” gives me a bad feeling. They’re known for being amoral greedy profit maximizing corporate rapists who bleed companies dry and run away with the cash, and the employees destitute.

      1. I think you are confusing a “Private Investment Company” working with existing management and “Private Equity Funds.”

        Dorilton is the former, investing without loading the company with debt , i.e. spend their own money to generate growth and the latter “Private Equity” asset strippers that tend to load the purchased company with the cost of the purchase as a “Secured Loan” and charge huge fees.

        I have for several years worked with one subsidiary, WEST (Western Energy Support & Technology) was originally invested in as Graftel in 2010 and further investment in 2014 to expand the division with more acquisitions to form WEST. The website will tell you how they operate and the diversity of the group operations.

        I think Williams are now very secure financially, with the current management staying in place to grow the business back to championship contenders and the family probably now having the reserves to meet inheritance tax issues which will arise at some point in the future.

        1. Thanks for your reasonable comment. Hope there is a good investment case, that it includes both the Williams racing legacy, their current tech capabilities, and the racing of two cars of increasing competitiveness. Not to mention hundreds of valuable jobs.

    27. Any guesses on the new colour scheme?

    28. Good bye to the last british formula 1 team.
      Ferrari: Italian
      McLaren: Arabic
      Mercedes: German
      Renault: French
      Force India: Canadian
      Red Bull: Austrian
      Alpha Tauri: Austrian
      Hass: Yankee
      Williams: Yankee
      Alfa Romeo: Swiss

      1. While that’s where the owners are based, McLaren, Mercedes, Racing Point, Haas, Red Bull, Renault and Williams are currently partly, mostly, or completely based in the UK.
        I wish the media reports regarding Brexit were sounding more positive because if the reported lack of progress in getting a free trade agreement between the EU and the UK turns into a reality then that’s only going to encourage Renault to move their entire operation to the EU. It could also encourage Mercedes to shift some or all of their operation back to Germany, and if they did then it would make sense for McLaren, Racing Point, and Williams to think about moving there as well.

    29. While it is sad, it has the possibility of being good news too. I suspect this is one of the few slightly better options open to the team’s shareholders and Board of Directors. While this is the end of an era, really the end started quite a while ago.
      Matthew Savage said they were “look forward to working with the Williams team in carrying out a detailed review of the business to determine in which areas new investment should be directed.” I do wonder if we’ll see a move towards the Haas model of building a car.

    30. They’ll race as Williams for another season, maybe 2. Then, the wheels of commerce will turn and the capital company will lease the naming rights to the highest bidder. Racing Pointless?

    31. Hearing James Matthews is involved? Worth a couple of billion, his wife is the sister of the future Queen, ex racing driver.

      1. If its the same guy, heir to about 10,000 acres in Scotland and won the Formula Renault Championship with Manor.

    32. Everyone is overlooking something very big here I think. Here’s the part from the press release:

      Williams Grand Prix Holdings PLC (WGPH, Ticker: WGF1) is today pleased to
      announce the completion of the sale of Williams Grand Prix Engineering Limited
      (“WGPE”), the operating subsidiary of the Group, to BCE Limited, a fund
      managed by Dorilton Capital Management LLC for €152 million (the
      “Transaction”).

      Now does anyone know anyone with the initials BCE? Someone interested in F1?

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