Williams team principal Roberts steps down in reshuffle

2021 F1 season

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Williams team principal Simon Roberts has left the outfit, 12 months since joining it in the wake of its sale to Dorilton.

Roberts’ departure has come about due to a restructuring of the team’s staff. Jost Capito, who took over as CEO at Williams earlier this year, will take over as team principal.

Capito’s plans to restructure the team involve merging its separate race and factory-based engineering programmes into one. This is intended to produce a simpler structure and approve accountability.

Francois-Xavier ‘FX’ Demaison, who joined Williams from Volkswagen in March, will have responsibility for the combined engineering effort as technical director. Dave Redding will remain as team manager.

The team intend to confirm the identity of its new head of race engineering prior to the French Grand Prix.

Simon Roberts exclusive interview
Interview: ‘New Williams owners aren’t just here to have fun, they want to win championships’
Roberts was named as team principal in December last year, having taken up the role on an interim basis the previous June following the team’s sale to Dorilton.

Capito praised Roberts’ role in overseeing the team during the takeover. “Simon has played an integral role in managing the transition over the last 12 months and I would like to thank him for his great contribution during that time,” he said.

Roberts, who spent most of the previous 17 years with McLaren before joining Williams, said: “It has been a pleasure to take on the role of team principal following the departure of the Williams family from the sport. However, with the transition well underway I am looking forward to a new challenge and wish everyone in the team well for the future.”

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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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  • 10 comments on “Williams team principal Roberts steps down in reshuffle”

    1. Very carefully managed words, some vintage PR here

    2. Interesting move. I would love to know what old Frank is thinking about all of this, and also life on the outside. An idea for a feature, Dieter?

      1. I imagine Frank is trying not to think about it at all.

    3. Is this the start of cleaning out the Williams culture of heroic garagista failure? I hope so.

      Roberts is a good man but he was hired by the family as yet another notch on the cane and was moved up to TP as a stop gap really. The instant nature of this departure suggests a sacking as Roberts can’t or won’t get with the new international owners and their managers.

      If it revives the team then strength to their arm. If they are trying to turn in into VW then that would be a real pity.

      1. andy_williams
        9th June 2021, 20:23

        not spoken to anyone at McLaren or Wiliams then……. ;)

        Reply moderated
      2. “heroic garagista failure”

        A bit strong…Williams are one of the sports grendee teams, they aren’t some Token effort (pun intended). The fact that most fans these days don’t remember them winning races and championships doesn’t take away from the fact that Williams are one of the most successful teams in history. Second highest number of constructors championships, fourth highest number of wins and pole positions… the deserve more respect.

        The steps the team are putting in place are aimed at moving them back to the pointy end of the grid and need time to pay off.

    4. This is intended to produce a simpler structure and approve accountability.

      I’d hoped for improvement. But on the internet, approval is next best thing.

    5. “Williams team principal Simon Roberts has left the outfit, 12 months since joining it”

      Interesting that he’s the only one reported as leaving, was probably only on a 12 month FTC. And yes, a lot of PR-speak in the announcement

    6. Capito’s plans to restructure the team involve merging its separate race and factory-based engineering programmes into one. This is intended to produce a simpler structure and approve accountability.

      The BBC is a bit stronger on this

      The 62-year-old German discovered that there was a breakdown in communication between the two different branches of engineering – the department that runs the car at the races, and the design engineers at the factory.
      Race engineering reported into Roberts as racing director, while factory engineering had a separate management structure. Capito found that they were working in isolation from each other, and often even in different directions.

      How on earth can the team have gotten itself in the position where you almost have two separate organisations? Almost working against each other.

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