“I got a lot of abuse”: Williams defends tenure at team and decision to sell

2020 F1 season

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Former Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams has defended her eight years in charge of the team, which was sold by the family last year as it finished last in the championship again.

Williams became responsible for the day-to-day running of the multiple title-winning outfit in 2013. The team finished last in the standings for the third year in a row last season and was sold to new owners Dorilton by the family which founded it 43 years earlier.

However Williams says the team was already making progress 12 months ago when it was hit by two unexpected developments which forced the family to sell.

Speaking in an interview for The Spectator, Williams described how the team increasingly struggled through years of being out-spent by larger rivals, and due to the emergence of new teams which were able to compete most cost-effectively.

“The top end of the grid [was] spending half a billion versus our budget of 120 [million],” she said. “And that’s just not a level playing field from the outset and therefore it’s very difficult to try and compete. When you’re in that situation it’s difficult to claw your way back.”

Williams said farewell to team at Monza
The team fell to last place in the constructors championship in 2018. The situation worsened the following year when its new car wasn’t ready in time for the start of testing and chief technical officer Paddy Lowe was shown the door.

“We also had some other difficulties internally with personnel,” said Williams. “We were all fighting these very technical, very complex technical regulations that just kept becoming ever more complex season upon season that we were wrestling with and not getting to grips with at Williams.”

New rivals such as Haas, who took advantage of rules allowing ‘non-listed parts’ to be sourced relatively cheaply from other teams, overtook Williams in the championship.

“The list of listed parts, which are the parts you have to make yourself, which are what define you as an independent team, had become much more diluted,” Williams explained. “So other teams that had only been in the sport a shorter time than us, that didn’t have the resource, was able to buy those parts from a team much higher up the grid, thereby making them a whole lot more successful a whole lot more quickly and almost shortcutting the process.

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“All this kind of stuff just conspired to send Williams down to the back end of the grid. And once you’re there, you’re obviously receiving less prize money, you have less interest from sponsors, and so you get an even [more] reduced budget and then you can’t spend your way out of it. And in Formula 1, if you’re in trouble, you’ve got to be able to spend your way out of it. And then 2020 happened.”

George Russell, Williams, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020
Split from Rokit multiple Williamss’ 2020 woes
While the outbreak of Covid-19 at the beginning of last year had massive ramifications for the entire sport, Williams had another dilemma to contend with. Title sponsor Rokit, which joined the team at the beginning of its dire 2019 campaign, withdrew its support.

“At the start of last year, we thought we’d kind of turned a corner,” said Williams. “Then we had the issues that we had with our title sponsorship, which stripped a load of money out of our budget. And then the pandemic hit.

“It was just like, oh my God, seriously, we’ve just got through these two very difficult years, we think we’ve turned a corner, we’ve got the team back where we want it to be, we feel like we’re making progress – and we were, we were a second, one and a half seconds quicker at a load of circuits [in 2020] off the back of a huge amount of hard work and that shows that we were taking steps forward – but then those two last kind of nails in the coffin really just killed us.”

The setbacks forced the family to accept it would have to sell its team, said Williams.

“We ran out of road basically at the end of 2020 as a family. And it was like, we’ve got to let this go now and hand it over to people that are able to invest in it because they’ve already got the money and they don’t have to go out and seek sponsorship for it or whatever and they can buy some time to plough their way up the ladder in Formula 1.”

The sale of the team was confirmed in August last year. Williams stood down immediately and was replaced by Simon Roberts. She admitted people “associate me with some of the worst years of Williams’s time in Formula 1” as a result.

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“The last three years of my tenure were incredibly difficult,” she said. “But there were some very extenuating circumstances around why we ended up in that place when I took it on.

Valtteri Bottas, Williams, Melbourne, 2014
Williams began V6 hybrid turbo era strongly
“Actually they forget that when I took it on, I inherited a team that for the past three consecutive seasons had finished ninth, eighth and ninth. I had the team for nine months and I managed to take it within less than a year to third place in the championship, two years in a row. And then we had two [fifths].

“That’s not bad for a team that invariably was always the underdog, that had much fewer people, much fewer resources and a whole lot less money than the teams that we were competing against.”

While the team continued to be well-liked within the paddock, Williams said she received a lot of personal criticism over the course of its eight-year decline.

“We got a lot of support and we retained that support through the early years of our demise. But then I think people started to turn a little bit and particularly, I think, against me. Quite rightly so: I was the leader, I was the boss and the buck stops with me.

“[But] you make decisions at the time because you think that they’re the right decisions and sometimes those decisions don’t go your way and that’s what happened in my case. But of course, I got a lot of a lot of flak for it. I got a lot of scrutiny for it. I’ve got a whole load of abuse, apparently, on social media. But, for me, I couldn’t listen to that noise. That for me would have taken up a huge amount of negative energy and I needed to focus my attention on the team and to prove everybody that I could do it.

Paddy Lowe, Circuit de Catalunya, 2019
Poor start to 2019 led to Lowe’s exit
“I think I could have done it if I’d have been given some more time and I had the money. But we didn’t have the luxury of a huge title sponsor or a car manufacturer plugging 100 million into the team year on year.”

As the daughter of team founder Sir Frank Williams, she faced accusations of nepotism after taking charge of the team, as well as sexist attacks on her suitability for her role.

“That came up repeatedly: ‘Oh, it’s because she’s a woman’ and I also got ‘she’s only in the job anyway because she’s Frank’s daughter, get her out’. I know that I got that a lot.

“I don’t care what people think or write about stuff like that when they’ve never walked a day in my shoes and they don’t know the truth. You can sling as much mud as you like, but it doesn’t stick on me. If that’s what you want to accuse me of, then that’s fine.

“I was my dad’s daughter and that was one of the reasons why I was in the job, for goodness’ sake, because we’re a family team and people at Williams wanted the next generation of Williamses to come in and run the team and for the family to still be involved. That was the whole point. So anyone that criticises the fact that I took over from my dad just misses the point completely about the importance of family and next generations.”

Frank Williams, Claire Williams, 2013
‘Dad was not into nepotism’, Williams insisted
Despite this, her father opposed her working for his team when she originally joined them in a communications role, she said.

“Dad was pretty clear: He was not into nepotism, did not want his children working at Williams. My older brother already had a job there and he wasn’t that keen on his daughter also working there.

“But fortunately, after about three months of lobbying by the then-head of marketing, dad reluctantly agreed to give me a trial. And then obviously the rest is history. I was there for another 20 years or so.

“I always just did what I was asked to do and I would have been happy working for 20 years as a press officer at Williams. It was such a great place to work. It was such a privilege. I enjoyed every minute of it.”

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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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50 comments on ““I got a lot of abuse”: Williams defends tenure at team and decision to sell”

  1. You can’t deny that under Claire the team had a run of very good years. There was a buzz about the team when they got the martini sponsorship back, they were in the mix for winning races occasionally at one point and the statement that small teams can’t compete against red bull and Mercedes is entirely true.

    The last 3 years have been bad, but the last years since the introduction of hybrid has been awful for everyone who isn’t the big two, with ferrari a distant third. If a team like McLaren could struggle with Bahraini money and drivers like Button and Alonso, what chance did Williams have?

    1. Claire was and remains a godess in f1. Who else could have done as much as she has with the limited plate she was handed?

    2. I vehemently disagree with Claire’s characterization. She’s been doing the rounds in the media, basically pretending that the dose of the team is something that ‘happened’ to her and was inevitable. As though she was not running the team for 5 years. She takes credit for the performance of the team inmediately after she took over as though a successful campaign could be set up from September (when she took over) to the following season. She inherited a successful team and managed it’s decline. She even had a successful team in 2016 after the major shuffle in regulations. She had a superior PU. She had decent drivers. She was aware of the opportunity to acquire listed parts.

      Ultimately it was HER failure. She deserves as much criticism as a CEO who leads a company to bankruptcy. Like Dick Fuld at Lehman Brothers or something like that. As a Williams fan I’m nauseated by this revisionist history act she keeps trying to portray.

      McLaren struggled yes, but they fired their CEO to fix the problem. They fired Martin Withmarsh. They changed their culture hired loads of new people. Got sponsors. Hired top talent to extract the most from the car instead of paydrivers. Don’t compare McLaren to Williams. It just highlights Claire’s abject incompetence as an executive

    3. I can 100% deny they had any success under her leadership.
      Their best years under her were immediately after she took over, & were exclusively due to momentum carried over from before she was in charge. Anyone who watches F1 knows that there is a 3-5 year momentum in the sport.

  2. Change or die, Claire. You just didn’t take that lesson from the thousands of business text books and hundreds of failed businessness out there. You should have been wiser to buy parts from higher teams. Your efforts to keep as much as possible inhouse have dashed anyway because Dorilton will be buying Mercedes parts come 2022.

    1. Books doe not save a corporation, people and money does.
      The people component was sufficient, the money component broke them.
      Clair was no goddess able to compensate for the loss of money. Maybe she was not a great teamboss, but look at Ferrari, McLaren to see what happened with others..

    2. Not every decision she made was bad (on paper)

      Paddy Lowe was a complete embarrassment and it was a no-brainer decision at the time. While I’m sure there were issues outside of his control, he should have done much MUCH better.

    3. You didn’t read it, did you?

      Williams couldn’t buy parts.

      1. Where does it say in the article that Williams “couldn’t buy parts”?

        Claire notes that the list of listed parts was relaxed, which allowed Haas in particular to enter with a car which used more components bought in from a parent team; however, even before then, there were still a number of components that a team could buy from another team quite legally.

        For example, take the transmission system – Sauber has been buying its gearboxes from Ferrari since the 2000s, whilst Force India started off buying gearboxes from McLaren in 2008 and then switched to buying them from Mercedes. There was nothing that prohibited Williams from doing the same, and indeed Williams themselves have more than once considered buying in gearboxes from Mercedes over the years.

        In fact, if you look at how Sauber has operated, they showed that it was still possible to buy in a number of components from Ferrari long before the rule changes that allowed Haas’s operating model to become feasible in 2016 appeared. In fact, their current operating model is still largely unchanged from what it has been for decades, which is to buy in components where it is necessary or more cost effective to do so, such as transmissions or hydraulics systems, but not needing to buy in as much as Haas does.

        Too many fans are presenting the situation in a very binary way, where you either have to operate in the way that Haas does or you have to be a full independent, when in reality there is a wide spectrum between the two.

        Why couldn’t Williams have moved towards a model that was closer to Sauber’s operating model, where they only bought in some components, but still maintained a reasonable amount of independence? There is nothing that would have prevented Williams from operating in that way for the past decade.

    4. @david-beau That would be the thinking of a team satisfied to tick along as also rans. You don’t beat the competition in the long term by being their customer. They are a racing family, the raced, they failed. I loved watching them try.

      1. Exactly this.
        Those commenting on Williams’ ‘refusal’ to buy in parts should also consider why Red Bull are so focused on not becoming a Renault customer while Renault has their own team…

  3. The team blew the golden ticket of the Mercedes engine and Paddy Lowe kicked them when they were down. It pains me as a fan of the Williams team all my life but in the end the boss pays the price. Lowe paid through incompetence of the very highest level and what he did to that team gets scant criticism because hes a nice guy and has some great technical ability but he was a disaster. Clare went all in with him and lost.

    Racing Point have showed its not all about budget, as do Ferrari. I dont hold out much hope for a bunch of venture capital suits to turn it round. F1 is way more complex than running a business into the ground through cost cutting and redundancies. More pain awaits.

  4. It’s weird that Claire doesn’t accept any responsibility beyond “[But] you make decisions at the time because you think that they’re the right decisions and sometimes those decisions don’t go your way and that’s what happened in my case.”

    If decisions don’t “go your way” you probably made a poor decision, did you not? If the head of the organization isn’t the one that’s responsible then who is? And why would you then get miffed about being under scrutiny. Scrutiny is part of the job. You think Toto Wolff was ultimately directly responsible for the pit stop screwups at Mercedes? Unlikely. But he’ll assume responsibility for them all the same, because the buck stops at him. Likewise of all team manager. The teams failures are their failures. The teams decisions are their decisions.

    What the people on social media say doesn’t matter. It shouldn’t matter to you, and it doesn’t matter for the end result, which was abysmal performance for years, financial mayhem that was remedied by pay drivers until even that wasn’t enough, technical development that was in shambles, etc. All that might not be a direct decision by Claire Williams, but ultimately she has to assume responsibility for each of those failures.

    1. +1, well said.

      1. You are spot on Aiii, she was in over head and stubbornly didn’t stand down and destroyed a great team…the buck stopped with her and she is to blame! No if’s ,bit’s or maybe’s

    2. Based on the Drive To Survive episode, it seemed to me that Claire was just too nice. When the buck stops with you, you have to hold people’s feet to the fire if they fail you, at least a bit. Instead, she seemed to want to be friends with everybody.

      I think that she suffered from the Peter Principle. She was promoted too far.

      1. Agreed she wasn’t a team principle. Her ego fo the team being a full end to end constructor cost the team massively. She inherited a team that was set up to utilise Merc engine in2014 which was massive benefit and advantage. But from that point on it was backwards every season.

        A good leader doesn’t hold feet to fire. A good leader carries the team forward and supports every team member.
        Toto us great example. Everyone takes responsibility but there is no backlash just understanding of mistake. A leader is a foundation for the house to be built on. Not the coat of paint that looks good at the end.
        Issue was Claire is was pretty much a beach under a house in a storm.

        1. @Fraser Loudon

          When their car didn’t make testing in 2019, Claire was surprised by that news. Good leaders can’t accept that, because then they can’t make good choices. The leader also looks like a fool if things go wrong in a way that one could have know and yet they don’t have an explanation for the outside world (fans, sponsors, etc).

          Being a foundation for an organization also means not letting people get away with behavior that undermines the organization.

          Anyway, I just didn’t see Claire ask the hard questions, that a leader is supposed to ask.

          1. Agree with that. She didn’t have a way to obtain feedback. Good or bad. harsh or fair. There didn’t appear to be a structure of assess understand and progress.
            Since Paddy arrived he always looked frustrated and could that be the lack of structure with in the company. He is a very good technical head. I suspect Williams needed more of company restructure and process than a change in aero philosophy…

      2. Well in the end it will come to Frank. Even though he wasn’t keen to give Claire or Jonathan that seat he made the decision to give it to her daughter. Claire seemed to have a totally different style of leading. I think Frank knew that day would come to choose between his own children or someone else. It was a risk and it didn’t end up very well.

    3. Yes, agree with this as well.

    4. She takes responsibility but the only decision she made wrong, aside from hiring Paddy, was to not be as rich as Stroll.

      1. True, F1 stopped being family-business friendly about 20 years ago.

        That she gave hope to fans is something not even Ferrari -who withdrew the family mentality around the time Michael retired for the first time- were able to do, and for that, I thank her.

        Funnily, the closest we have now to a family team is Stroll Racing, but, I get the feeling Lawrence is in to get a nice ROI and ship out as soon as he can.

  5. “The list of listed parts, which are the parts you have to make yourself, which are what define you as an independent team, had become much more diluted,” Williams explained. “So other teams that had only been in the sport a shorter time than us, that didn’t have the resource, was able to buy those parts from a team much higher up the grid, thereby making them a whole lot more successful a whole lot more quickly and almost shortcutting the process.

    “All this kind of stuff just conspired to send Williams down to the back end of the grid. And once you’re there, you’re obviously receiving less prize money, you have less interest from sponsors, and so you get an even [more] reduced budget and then you can’t spend your way out of it.

    That is why I have always been sceptical that allowing teams to buy parts, Customer cars or simply technical knowledge from other teams is a positive thing.

    On one hand yes it gives you some more competitive teams in the mid-field but it also pushes other teams backwards & can make it harder for them to recover unless they go down the same path which then means you essentially have a few of the top teams controlling most of the grid which is something I don’t necessarily see as a positive thing.

    You go back 10-20+ years & you had 10-13 cars that all looked different, That all had different design ideas & different strengths/weaknesses etc… & I just find that far more interesting than a field of 10-13 cars that all look similar & perform very similar with very similar strengths & weaknesses because they all share bits from each other.

  6. Williams wasn’t Red Bull or Ferrari or Mercedes. They were in F1 for a very different reason.
    Just buying in everything they could would destroy the very essence of the team. They were a truly independent constructor team – that’s how they’d done it because that’s how they always wanted to do it, and they can be very proud of that. Even when everyone else was outsourcing, they were engineering – and that’s one of the foundations that F1 was built on.
    Race teams aren’t always driven purely by race wins and championships – the journey and the function of the team is often just as, if not more, important than outright results.
    F1 was fortunate enough to see many such teams come, and unfortunate (or poorly managed) enough to see them go – Williams was the last one to be able to hold on without manufacturer support, or self-supplied manufacturer-level budget.

    May we all lament the day when Williams was sold and the last remaining family team in F1 ceased to exist, and remember it as the day F1 stopped being about motor racing passion and became purely about corporatization and money.

    As to the personal comments of nepotism and so-on… Maybe you’ve got to start your own family business to understand what it really means and why it happens. Selling out your business to outsiders is essentially selling out your family.
    Personally, I’d rather have seen the Williams F1 team name disappear with the ownership. It won’t ever be ‘the’ Williams team ever again.

    1. S, saying that Williams “were a truly independent constructor team – that’s how they’d done it because that’s how they always wanted to do it” isn’t really true though, because they have outsourced development work to third parties in the past.

      Just look at their gearboxes, for example – when they had a customer engine supply deal from Toyota, Williams also shared designs and technology with Toyota and was quite prepared to buy in components from Toyota to use in their own gearboxes. Williams’s 2007 gearbox, in fact, actually dropped Williams’s own in house design in preference of Toyota’s more efficient design instead. Williams have also been quite happy to subcontract work out to Xtrac as well over the years when it came to the design of their gearboxes, and indeed quite a few other components as well (e.g. the hydraulics systems).

      Whilst you say that whilst “everyone else was outsourcing, they were engineering”, there are also those who have been critical of Williams being slow to adapt to changes in the sport because of that mentality. The desire to do as much as possible in house has been criticised for resulting in a “closed shop” mentality, with those within the team losing track with the innovations that those “mere outsourcers”, as you dismiss them as, were able to provide.

      If anything, the attitude that “everyone else was outsourcing, they were engineering” is part of the very problem that has brought down Williams. A team like Force India has relied heavily on outsourcing for much of its existence, but if anything they have often outperformed, out thought and out designed Williams because they could also take advantage of solutions that others have come up with.

      The very thing that might have once made Williams a great team is also the same mentality that, over time, resulted in its ossification, decay and eventual downfall.

    2. F1 is about being fast. Doesn’t matter how you do it. There were all these other teams benefiting in every way possible from the rules and Williams refused to accept every advantage possible in a sport where. Time costs a lot of money. Posturing to be completely independent is a choice. Had they taken route they are taking for 2021 and beyond and accepted more parts from Merc the family would still be in f1 into a new era where budget differential will be less.

      When you run a business and understand how difficult funding is you need to make what little you have go further. Racing Point did this Williams did not. Essence of the team is the team members and employees. As principle her job was to secure their future first.
      Note she sat back and took profit out each year for last years. Racing point was run to net zero. Williams was runs to around £12 million profit each year. She was concentrating on herself. The team was an inherited luxury.

  7. The demands of Formula One grew past the Williams teams ability to deal with. Instead of riding a wave to stay with the others. She could get the team up on that wake. Too much riding on past fortunes as far too little current success began to pile up and that sank the family effort over the last ten years. It’s weird to have such a historic team plod along with the Bottom teams for year after year. Thanks that George is there still or they would have Titanic’d it far sooner. Ferrari certainly began to challenge Williams for the biggest bad surprise of the year. So build a better car Williams. You are capable.

  8. Securing Martini title sponsorship – good decision. (Was it hers?)
    Securing Mercedes power units – good decision. (Again, was it her doing?)
    Hiring Massa – good decision. (Or this one?)
    Not addressing the slow/medium corner problems properly between 2014-2016 – bad decision.
    Not addressing the wet/cold track performance problems properly between 2014-2016 – bad decision.
    Not getting a closer technical collaboration with Mercedes in the name of protecting the independence of the team – bad decision.
    Letting the Strolls take the team as hostage for two years, effectively surrendering the independence of the team – bad decision.
    Hiring poorer Stroll (Sirotkin) instead of partnering Stroll with someone of Massa’s caliber – bad decision.
    Not getting mixed up with Rich Energy – a rare good decision.
    Getting mixed up with a phone company instead that was selling phones at least 5 years outdated – bad decision.
    Hiring Latifi, who even with a year of experience under his belt was almost outqualified and actually beaten by stand-in driver Aitken – forced bad decision after previous bad decisions left the team at the mercy of terrible pay drivers.
    Wasting precious testing time on Nissany – see Hiring Latifi.

    Claire should take responsibilty for at least some of these. But clearly she does not: because she is still a very poor leader, only now she doesn’t have a heritage team to run into the ground.

  9. As long as I can feel that she tried her best to manage the team and that COVID was really ill timed for their recovery, I believe she was ultimately responsible for the team’s demise. As a leader you need to have a long term vision for the team, and she failed to observe that in her first years as team manager. She had success in the beginning because of the Mercedes engines that were so good that could mask the chassis weaknesses. She had 3 years to make changes in Williams business model during this period where she had Martini support. In my opinion, she had time to see that Haas model was the way to go and to try to outsource most components she could at the time, but she didn’t. I also feel that she was able to keep Massa for 1 more year for a very low wage, as he was willing to reduce his salary and he still would be a solid Perez like driver, and manage to bring some points for the team. The Williams case is ultimately of a business organization who failed to identify that the business environment had changed and that their business model was obsolete; they failed to identify that and failed to quickly react to these changes. Everything was also worsened due to the world pandemic which hindered their source of income (Rokit withdrawal). Sad, but unfortunately this was due to mismanagement.

  10. I think this is a fair account from her. Undoubtedly the level of vitriol she has received far surpasses what we can understand or is deserved. She admits faults, and that ultimately the buck stopped with her, which I think shows a lot of character.

    She deserves no ill will and definitely had a great passion for the business, when she was a guest on Rosberg’s podcast I think really opened my eyes to that. Ultimately I’m glad the Williams team can move forward with new owners and a new philosophy, even if that means the premature end to the dynasty.

    The only part that’s still muddied is the issue of nepotism, she says it’s a family team and that value was core to the team… I mean, especially considering the outcome I think there is completely crystal clear reason for criticism of that. Had the team changed leadership and brought in someone with a new perspective who wasn’t so attached to the family focused method of operating, maybe things could have ended differently.

    1. Don’t agree Tristan

  11. At one time I worked for a phone company, and it seemed to me the only way they knew how to successfully adapt to the very rapid and significant changes in technology was to restructure every year or so. From afar, it looks to me as though Williams failed to embrace the new technologies and better design and build philosophies that had become available. It was the right decision for Williams family to sell the team because at the back of every decision was “Frank said …” or “That isn’t how we do things here”. Later on one could add “We don’t have the money to do that” as well, but the fundamental problem was the traditional way of making an F1 car was more important than a desperate desire for a race winning F1 car. When “Frank said …”, “We are a real racing team”, etc, become more important than winning, then you can expect to finish races at the back of the field.

  12. She made some good decisions, and some bad, as does everyone in life. I think her tenure will probably be marked under ‘failure’ when the dust settles, whether that’s a product of the F1 model and whether someone else could have done better, it’s probably both, but her name certainly didn’t help her and the reality is someone else could always do your job better than you no matter what you do in life. There have been worse Team Principals (I know she didn’t actually hold that title, probably half of the problem), but I think her resume looks better than Colin Kolles, Peter Windsor, Zoran Stefanović etc (there’s been plenty).

    She has always struck me as very capable, but I honestly can’t remember her speaking without mentioning ‘The Williams Name’ at some point, whatever she does next, I can imagine her being freed of that burden (though she didn’t help herself mentioning it all the time). I wish her the best of luck regardless.

  13. Ultimately, the final chapter of the Williams F1 story will be of not compromising their belief in running an independent team despite the economic and sporting realities that this was a no longer viable model. This falls on Claire’s shoulders but also must fall on Sir Frank’s shoulders as well. It was truly a family business and the family must share in the blame.

    Claire gets a lot a unfair treatment, especially due to her gender and last name, but it unquestionable that Williams choose to maintain their independence rather than form a stronger technical partnership with the most dominant team in modern F1 history. Yes, the sponsors weren’t breaking down their doors so they had limited engineering budget, but I have to think if they presented to potential sponsors that they were going to partner more with Mercedes the sponsors would have started writing more checks. I think as it was sponsors saw that Williams was on a path that would lead to their own demise. As it was with dwindling sponsor money and limited budgets they decided to keep their limited spending money on engineering and manufacturing their own non-listed parts rather than purchase them from proven designs from teams with much better funded engineering and manufacturing departments.

    The refusal to lose their independence may have let them sleep well at night in the short term but in the long term it cost them their team. Maybe they are fine with not having a team at all rather than be a satellite team of a large manufacturer. Only they can answer that. But the fact remains they refused to change to adapt to a changing economic and sporting landscape and as a result were forced to sell their team. I can both admire that they held true to their beliefs until the end and at the same time dislike that as a result we no longer see the Williams family on the grid.

  14. Williams had their own engineering department to deal with such things of making their own equipment. Someone made the example of redbull not wanting to deal with Renault while Renault have their own team, so Williams should not use Mercedes parts. Being at rock bottom maybe that has to be put on hold to say let’s get some Mercedes parts and learn from that and try to understand their development and engineering tricks. F1 is always been a changing sport, Claire didn’t want any change to follow the lead of some other teams like force India and haas was doing.
    Another thing from this article she speaks about how everyone said so much about the next generation taking over leadership of the team and keeping it family run. She forgets the part where she refused to let her brother be of any small part of the team.

    1. Saffa, I wouldn’t say that “she refused to let her brother be of any small part of the team”, as there have been those who suggest that is more to do with Frank’s decision to not promote Jonathan.

  15. The title she had says it all: Deputy team Principal.

    Frank wanted to run the team through his daughter and his vision was something from the 1980 and 90’s not of 2015. In the old days even after his accident Frank Williams was a dynamo and with Patrick Head he created multiple winners. But in later years that partnerhip disappeared and Frank’s health, and no doubt his energy level, declined.

    For a while the team ran on inertia from past success boosted occasionally by flashes of the old Williams. But it was more a drowning man raising himself above the waves a few times before sinking back. Appointing Paddy Lowe and letting him loose on the team was the final straw. From that disaster onwards the team’s fate was inexorable. Neither father or daughter seemed to know where to go next.

    Sad. It was a family firm but that is no excuse for how it was managed.

    1. Paul Gammidge-Jefferson
      31st January 2021, 11:09

      Agreed. Our problems started with the way Adrian was treated. This was closely followed by not taking Dr Mario’s advice to update and reorganise. We then missed out on Toto and Lawrence as long term investors. Our wounds are self inflicted. It was under Claire’s leadership that we decided to throw away our R&D by building a new car that only had a one season lifespan as the regs were changing. As for nepotism, Claire said that she had the fastest rise to the board room of any Williams employee. That fact that she does not acknowledge that her name had anything to do with it says everything about her management credentials. I love Claire as Frank’s daughter but she steered us to the back of grid. The personnel problems that she quotes were part of her brief.

  16. Well done Claire.

    Williams was in the position it was regardless of who was in charge, it suffered a huge slump from 2005 and nothing really changed after that point. There were ups but it just wasn’t sustainable.

    Sunday at Monza 2020 was a sad day.

  17. She comes across as a nice person. But we all did see this coming for years and she didn’t.

  18. First part is right on the money. It was Frank’s team to do with as he pleased, and it apparently pleased him to be as deeply involved in the activity as he could manage, clearly only possible by having Claire as his proxy. I’m sure (based on many stories of how he did business up to her appointment) that he would have kept the deciding say in all major decisions. I hope he finds a new past-time and for nothing but good things for her.

  19. Her job was far from easy and for sure not all decisions were good but no one outside the team really knows. Every one that already runned a small professional non F1 racing team knows how dificult it is and only can imagine how hard it was her position. She did her best, that is for sure.

  20. Wow I didn’t realize we had all these business owners and business professors that visit the site! Claire, you should have just listened to the commenters here and Williams would have been saved! So easy!

    1. Not sure I agree with your point. She has been advised more than once, also by people not on this site ;-) but comes across as stubborn as the Royal Family. But never mind, it was due that the team got some proper management.

      1. thanks for proving my point

  21. I wish I could say it was surprising that the commentariat here totally fails to acknowledge/even remember Adam Parr’s being forced out Williams Grand Prix Engineering, let alone connect it to the collapse of the team’s fortunes. Oh well.

  22. Formula 1 isn’t the pinnacle of Motorsport anymore. It’s just a glorified dressage event. Stick to touring cars… Proper racing and teams that can actually compete with each other

  23. Actually they forget that when I took it on, I inherited a team that for the past three consecutive seasons had finished ninth, eighth and ninth. I had the team for nine months and I managed to take it within less than a year to third place in the championship, two years in a row.

    Actually that was when, by her own account, Frank Williams as Team principal was pretty much running the show. It’s after he left (or “left more”) that it went off the deep end under her watch.

  24. Apparently people who comment here seem to forget that she was only the ‘acting’ Team principal and not the actual team principal. She was running the day to day business for the team, not making the executive decisions, as they were still made by the board of directors, who consisted of Frank Williams, CEO Mike O’Driscoll and CFO Doug Lafferty among others. Claire was not a board member.

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