Williams no longer dependent on drivers who bring money – Capito

2021 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Williams is not looking for drivers who can bring sponsorship next season, the team’s CEO Jost Capito has confirmed.

It follows the team’s purchase by Dorilton Capital last year, which led to Capito’s appointment ahead of this season.

“I think at Williams we are in the position that we certainly decide on the drivers and we are not dependent, like in the past, on some other driver who brings money,” said Capito.

“We have a long-term plan to get back to the top and we have to choose the drivers that fit into that plan. We are just thinking about this. Of course everybody can talk to us but the decision is with us.”

Financial considerations have been a factor in several Williams driver hires over the past decade. In 2011 Pastor Maldonado, who brought backing from Venezuela’s state-owned energy company PDVSA, replaced Nico Hulkenberg, who learned he was bring dropped by the team a week after putting their car on pole position for the 2010 Brazilian Grand Prix.

Maldonado was followed by a series of other drivers with financial support including Bruno Senna, Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin.

The team’s current line-up includes George Russell, a junior driver for engine supplier Mercedes, and Nicholas Latifi, who brings sponsorship from brands linked to his father’s company Sofina.

Russell has been widely tipped to join Mercedes next year alongside Lewis Hamilton. Capito indicated Latifi’s performances could ensure he keeps his place at the team, if he “continues improving and has a strong second half of the season.”

“When you compare him to George, it’s not that big of a difference, especially in the races,” said Capito. “He has good race speed, he brings the car home, he doesn’t make mistakes. He helps the team, he is liked by the team.”

Latifi has never out-qualified Russell in any of their 26 races as team mates. However Capito pointed out “in a couple of qualifyings he had a couple of times where George had good luck and he had bad luck.”

This happened in the last race at Silverstone, where Latifi was baffled to discover he was losing six tenths of a second to his team mate on the straights. “The wind conditions, for example, changed from his run to George’s run, and you know that our car is very sensitive to the wind conditions,” said Capito.

“George was just out there when it was really good for our car and then a couple of minutes later when Nicholas was out it was the complete opposite. So when we analyse it, this is pretty good, so there’s no reason not to have him in next year.”

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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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14 comments on “Williams no longer dependent on drivers who bring money – Capito”

  1. If money isn’t an object they really need either Hulkenberg and Kvyat or Bottas in that car next year. Latifi shouldn’t even be getting mentioned! He has been comprehensively beaten for 2 years.

    1. I’d love to see Nico back in F1, and he’s a good development driver. For race pace Valtteri is the better driver IMHO, and I’m afraid Daniil has neither solid pace nor top development skills.
      None of them has prospects in F1 though. Lando, Max, Charles, George and maybe some others would consistently beat them in the same car.

      I would expect Nyck de Vries will get a chance. He is in the Mercedes program and did impress at testing last year and leads the Formula E championship.
      The Formula 2 drivers don’t impress me much; the top 5 are quite close, which shows none of them really excels.

      Formula E is also quite close, but that is due to qualifying where the championship leaders have to go out first when the track is still green and therefore often get somewhere halfway up the grid at best. Nyck was particularly hit hard by that, having led the championship after the first few rounds, yet managed to claw back to the top again.

      1. Bottas and De Vries then!?

        One experienced, one green.

    2. Latifi should not even be mentioned because he has been beaten for 2 seasons, but Bottas should be considered for that seat? Bottas who has been beaten for 5 seasons…

      1. By one of the greatest drivers of F1 history. You can’t look at raw statistics in the same way. Pit Bottas against most (not all) the other drivers and he would have the upper hand I’m sure.

  2. OK so Russell goes to Merc and is replaced by Bottas , who replaces Latifi?

    1. Bottas + Gasly could be an option.

      1. Why does Gasly leave the Red Bull family next year?

  3. Only went as far as P11, can’t go further than P11. Is slow, Lance mid, Fernando fast.

  4. I don’t recall Bruno Senna necessarily being a so-called pay driver.
    In his case, the surname is what probably helped him become an F1 driver.

    1. He wasn’t in the sense of Stroll or Latifi but he did bring a lot of direct sponsorship from Brazil as well as being generally more attractive to F1 sponsors with the Senna name.

      If his name was Bruno Smith, I doubt he’d have secured an F1 drive.

      Reply moderated
    2. @erejj He brought the Gilette and Embratel money with him.

  5. seems a bit unfair to put Maldonado in the picture… yeah he brought a lot of money but he was also the gp3 champion and was incredibly fast… when his car wasn’t in the wall… which it often was

    in the modern era, surely you would have to say that Nakajima started their reliance on pay drivers.

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