Claire Williams, Williams, Monza, 2020

Claire Williams turned down offer to remain at team

2020 Italian Grand Prix

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Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams revealed had an offer from its new owners Dorilton to remain at the team.

However Williams decided against staying, and will leave the team following this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.

“There were a lot of rumours swirling around in Spa about my tenure within the team,” said Williams. “Dorilton, I’d like to make it clear, wanted me to stay. This was my decision. I felt that it was the right choice for me to step away.”

Williams will now begin “a period of transition”, she said. “This is obviously going to be my last race weekend but I am going to be working a few days a week over the course of the next few weeks in order to hand over, in order to talk to Dorilton about the team and the inner workings of the team and the expertise that they need to come in.

“Obviously they’re in the business already, they’re doing their due diligence, they’re reviewing the capabilities and they’re looking at what they can do in order to invest into the business. And I will be helping them with that to advise that over the coming weeks.”

The team, which was founded by Sir Frank Williams in 1977, confirmed yesterday his family will no longer be involved in running it after this weekend. Williams thanked her competitors and the team’s fans for the support they have received.

“I would just like to say an enormous thank you for all the support that we have received since making the announcement. I think we felt quite overwhelmed by it.

“Williams has obviously contributed, I feel a huge amount, to Formula 1. Certainly the legacy that Frank and Patrick [Head] leave behind, I think it’s nothing short of extraordinary what they have managed to achieve.

“But not just the support that we’ve received in the paddock that we are enormously grateful for, but also the support that we’ve received from our fans. We have some of the best fans out there and yesterday they were contacting us in their thousands and it was lovely to see. And we thank them enormously for all of their support.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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40 comments on “Claire Williams turned down offer to remain at team”

  1. As much as she’s very likable and one of the only prominent women in the sport, frankly (no pun intended), if she was anyone but the daughter of the boss, she’d have been under intense scrutiny for years. Since she took over, in terms of points scored and potential, the team has got worse year-on-year.

    Obviously a Netflix documentary is no fair representation of reality, but my impression from Drive to Survive was that she’s woefully out of her depth and doesn’t give off the same air of authority and confidence as, say, Toto Wolff or Christian Horner.

    I have never supported a Formula One team, rather enjoying the sport as a neutral and supporting the underdog (whoever that may be); but I’ve always had a soft spot for Williams. I hope their last race is a successful-ish one and that the next stage of the team builds on an incredible legacy.

    1. I would recommend the Williams film, although some of it is painful to watch. Perhaps Claire was the best person in the family to take over.

    2. Since she took over, in terms of points scored and potential, the team has got worse year-on-year.

      Not true, the demise was already underway when she took over. She did some interesting restructures that saved the finances but the team was struggling as before.

  2. Seems Claire just doesn’t have the passion for F1. Can’t imagine someone who loves F1 wanting to step away from their team when new investment and support has come on board and wants her to stay.

    1. I think there’s a big difference between “wanting her to stay” and “wanting her to stay in the same position she’s currently in.”

    2. From what I read @petabaldwin, the new owners actually asked her to stay on as team principal, i.e. in the same role.

      She mentions that she said no, in part because she feels she cannot bring up the energy to put into it when she is working for someone else, as a hired hand, instead of herself/her father/her family.

      1. I don’t believe they did, if so till the end of the year..think this is just a pr spin

    3. Jason Bourne, isn’t that similar to what her father did when Walter Wolf bought the original Williams racing team though? We have seen a lot of figures walk away from teams in F1 – it all depends on what conditions were attached to her staying in that position.

      1. The name is still Williams. The team has done a great job last season and this season in the development of their car to now being competitive with the back.

  3. At the end of the day, Claire put the team through some absolutely horrifying performances over the past few years, then (along with the board) ignored an opportunity for Stroll Sr. to save the team with a healthy cash injection, again ignored an opportunity for Merc to save the team, and now gave up the team to an investment company anyways, while also having to sell off the engineering arm of Williams.

    It is what it is, but ultimately history doesn’t look favorably on her performance as team boss as far as I’m concerned. Lets see who takes the reins at the team and what they can do to get them back solidly into the midfield.

  4. I think Claire has never really wanted to be doing this for living, she took over from her dad as a result of huge pressure of the team fading with Frank. This is the impression I always had about her. I might be wrong but i think she will now finally be able to be happy. F1 is a meat grinder.

    1. Really liked her though. Tough to be thrown in at the deep end, but still had very good style.

  5. Impossible job …. the supposed team chief, but having to do what Frank decided. I have no doubt she would have taken a deal a considerable time ago had it been her choice alone.

  6. bye, you wont be missed.

    1. Yeah, without the blatant nepotism she would have been fired for poor performace years ago. Or more likely, she would have never been considered for a position in the first place.

      1. i agree with this. (and just to be clear it has nothing to do with her being a woman)

        1. She did good consudering the state the team was in.
          Women in F1 seem to have a hard time and are supposed to do better then men.. interesting.

          1. last on the grid, finaces on the absolute limit, “bad” pay drivers, toxic team enviroment, failure to attract talent to the team by offering competitive salleries and benifits etc so explain to me how did she do good exactly?

            And no i hold all the team principals accountable to the same level regardless of sex, and even tho my comment had a disclaimer YOU still had to go there….

          2. abananasplitz, and how different is that to where the team was beforehand?

            Williams have been a spent force for decades, and long before she took you could make exactly the same complaints. Complaints about a “toxic team environment” go back to the 1990s, years before she even joined the team, whilst criticisms about “a failure to attract talent to the team by offering competitive salaries and benefits” were being made by Webber in the mid 2000s.

            Similarly, as soon as BMW parted ways with Williams at the end of the 2005 season, money was always a problem for the team. It was reported back in 2006 that, between the loss of BMW in 2005 and the disastrous 2006 season, Williams took a major financial hit – a sizeable chunk of the debt the team has now are debts the team built up back in 2006, and they’ve never recovered from that financial shock. As for pay drivers, let’s be blunt, in the late 2000s Nakajima was a fairly blatant pay driver who only got his seat because he was backed by Toyota, who were supplying engines to Williams at the time.

            Similarly, there were quite a few seasons where Williams was spending most of its time at the back of the grid in the late 2000s after it lost support from BMW – just look at, say, 2006 or 2011 (again, awful seasons for the team that pre-dated her time as head of the team).

            All of the problems you are attributing to her were long standing issues that the team had for a long time beforehand – some of them probably having built up over a couple of decades, and thus not the work of a moment to solve the issues they were causing.

            If a team already has major legacy debt issues and problems with raising sponsorship, then you’re not going to instantly transform the situation overnight – particularly in an environment where commercial sponsorship of teams has been slowly declining because the rise in pay TV means sponsors aren’t quite as willing to pay up to show their goods to a reduced number of viewers.

            Similarly, if you are struggling to raise money to begin with, then your idea of throwing money at star engineers to attract talent begs the question of how you’re going to pay for your strategy (you’re somewhat quiet on how exactly they were meant to pay for those engineers).

            It’s very easy to say “oh, you should fix this and you should fix that”, but what exactly was she meant to do? What do you think she could have done in those circumstances and how would you have solved the issues that the team had?

  7. did she have an offer to stay at the team, but not as team principal? surely there is something more than meets the eye in this newspiece

  8. Williams did have a poor execution on the F1 engineering and sporting side for the last several years now. I’m sure there’s an important degree of responsability for that in Claire Williams side.

    But for all these lack-luster terrible years, Williams still managed to produce a profit, so she can’t be all that bad, and I get why Dorilton could want her to stay.

  9. Her reasoning that she can’t stay at the team if it’s not her team just highlights to me the core issues with her philosophy. She wants to be the good guy and not be accountable and make the tough decisions that need to be made.

    When you are the owner you can make the wrong decisions and just say that it’s right even if to everyone else it is obviously wrong. When you are not the owner you no longer have that power.

    1. To be fair @skipgamer , one of the reasons I did not want to take over my family’s business (it is smaller though) is that I felt I could not be the guy to fire the employees I knew since I was a kid when push comes to shove.

      1. Exactly, from what I heard from the sky commentary that is exactly the problem Williams has had.

  10. Is this some face-saving on her part for finally being shown the door? Seems like she’s refused to consider that the buck stops with her for all these years.

  11. I think Williams (team and family) had their idea of what F1 ought to be. To be fair, I think that vision is better than the reality of current F1, but the mistake was (and this wasn’t just Claire’s decision) to run the team and approach F1 as if it was how they thought it should be and ‘to hell’ with the reality. This was a policy decision that came from the very top. She wouldn’t have stayed where she was if she was not running the team how Frank wanted it run. The results that the team turned in in recent years are a result of that top-level policy and not any lack of passion, capability or understanding on the part of Claire Williams in the (proxy) team principal role.
    It makes me sad. Never mind the PR spin; it’s not Williams any more. Williams stood in front of Bernie and Liberty’s train and because they thought the train shouldn’t be on that track they wouldn’t move to safety. It was a principled stand but was it worth it?

  12. Bermuda yacht life beckons, and why not!

  13. Have to say I simply don’t believe that the intention was for her to remain as Team principal hence the wording of her statement but am sure it was covered in the Purchase Agreement that that she would be offered some role in the same way Bernie was made Honorary Chairman or some such like title when Liberty took over…

  14. But why leave after race 2 of a triple header? Bizzare time to pull the pin IMHO

    1. And no one to replace her yet.. indeed very strange..

    2. bizarre to just leave mid season tbh sure its not like they are fighting for wins or the championship but the chaos due to management just leaving in the middle cant be good for the team can it?

    3. It looks she urged to leave.. escape..

  15. Coventry Climax
    4th September 2020, 19:44

    Reading the comments above has given me a so much better feel on the worlds future: So many people really knowing all about what went on and having such explicit ideas about what should have happenend and what should happen now. You must all be in top manager roles and have inside information noone else has, I suppose?

    1. Or we just listen to the coverage. This was talked about for a good 15 mins in FP2 and Button loved the team but basically had the conclusion that she has to go and it’s the right move for the team, right move for everybody even.

      If he doesn’t have the inside information being a driver in the team, then to your mind, who does?

      No need to read the future in to some online comments, oh boy will you be disappointed when you venture in to some less kind places on the internet…

  16. ^ COTD, I was think thinking the same thing……

    1. Hey nice, now I’m your suggested cotd, thanks…

  17. Agree, and get got a award for her motorsport contribution..just bizzare!

  18. We’ll see how good a team principal she is if any other team snap her up. Maybe Ferrari lol.

    Obviously I’m being facetious.

    What a disaster she has been.

    Frank Williams didn’t have the heart to demote her and she didn’t have the humility to admit she had no business being team principal of an F1 team.

    Ran that team off a cliff.

    At the same time, Frank Williams and Patrick Head were always very cold and ruthless with drivers treating them like chattel, so what comes around turns around in the end.

  19. They were very interested in her CV and really enjoyed meeting her but unfortunately on this occasion there were other candidates that better matched the job role.

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