Following the sale of Williams Racing to American private investment firm Dorilton Capital last month, Williams Racing’s Deputy Team Principal, Claire Williams has announced she is to step down from her role with the team following the conclusion of the Italian Grand Prix this weekend.
Sir Frank Williams founded Frank Williams Racing Cars in 1966, competing in its first race in 1977 at the Circuito de Jarama in Spain. Since then, Williams has won 114 Grands Prix, taken 128 pole positions and secured 133 fastest laps, culminating in nine Constructors’ and seven Drivers’ World Championships. It is the third longest standing team in the history of the sport and one of the most successful.
Claire joined the Grove, Oxfordshire-based business in an official capacity in 2002 working in the Communications Office. In 2012, she was appointed to the Board in her position as Commercial and Marketing Director before taking over the day-to-day running of the team in 2013 as Deputy Team Principal. Claire has led the team to two third and two fifth place finishes in the Constructors’ Championship over the last seven years.
Williams Grand Prix Engineering has announced that Matthew Savage, Darren Fultz and James Matthews will make up the company’s new Board of Directors.
Matthew Savage is the Chairman of Dorilton Capital. Darren Fultz co-founded Dorilton Capital in 2009 and became CEO in 2018. James Matthews is the CEO of Eden Rock Group, an investment advisory firm headquartered in London. James is a former British racing driver and the co-founders of Eden Rock have a background in motorsports spanning more than 30 years.
The new Board recognises and appreciates the importance of retaining Williams’ heritage and culture and will continue to work with the senior management to leverage its capabilities to return it to racing competitively.
In addition to her efforts on the racing side of the business, Claire has worked to drive greater gender diversity across the sport while also promoting engineering to the next generation. While at the helm of the team, Claire was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the Queen’s 2016 Birthday Honours List in recognition of her services to Formula One.
Claire’s final act as Deputy Team Principal, and probably one of the most crucial, was the part she played in the successful campaigning for a more sustainable Formula One. The new Concorde Agreement, now signed by all teams, maps out a more level playing field for the sport with more equitable financial and technical regulations moving forwards that the team will be able to capitalise upon from 2021 and beyond.
Claire said: “It is with a heavy heart that I am stepping away from my role with the team. I had hoped to continue my tenure long into the future and to preserve the Williams family’s legacy into the next generation. However, our need to find inward investment earlier this year due to a number of factors, many of which were outside of our control, resulted in the sale of the team to Dorilton Capital. My family has always put our racing team and our people first and this was absolutely the right decision. I know in them we have found the right people to take Williams back to the front of the grid while also preserving the Williams legacy.
“I have taken the decision to step away from the team in order to allow Dorilton a fresh start as the new owners. It has not been an easy decision but it’s one I believe to be right for all involved. I have been enormously privileged to have grown up in this team and in the wonderful world that is Formula One. I have loved every minute and will be forever grateful for the opportunities it has given me. But it’s also an incredibly challenging sport and I now want to see what else the world holds for me. Most importantly, I want to spend time with my family.
“I would like to thank Dorilton for their support and for understanding my decision. I would also like to thank our fans who have stuck by us through thick and thin. Our people at Williams have always been family, they have kept me motivated during the difficult times and it is them who I will miss the most. It is my genuine hope that the process we’ve gone through brings them the success they deserve. And finally, I would like to thank my Dad for everything he has given to the team, the sport and our family.”
“On behalf of Frank and the Williams family, I would like to say how incredibly grateful and humbled we are for the support we have enjoyed over the years, from our friends in the paddock to the many fans around the world. But mostly, we would like to thank our team. People who have worked at Williams in the past and present. They are the true warriors of this team and have made it what it is and we wish them well. Formula One has been our life for so long and now it’s time for a new chapter in our lives to begin.”
The recent conclusion of the Strategic Review process and consequent sale of Williams Grand Prix Engineering to US-based investment firm, Dorilton Capital ensures the long-term future of the Williams Formula One team and provides a timely point at which the Williams family have chosen to exit the sport.
Matthew Savage, Chairman of Dorilton Capital and Williams Grand Prix Engineering, said: “We fully respect the very tough decision of Claire and the Williams family to step away from the team and the business after securing new resources for its future. Claire’s achievement in sustaining Williams Racing’s heritage, relevance and commitment to innovation in a difficult environment since taking charge in 2013 has been nothing short of monumental. She has also been hugely instrumental in shaping a more level technical and financial playing field for F1, which will help to ensure the team’s return to the front of the grid in seasons to come. We are proud to carry the Williams name into the next exciting phase for the sport and we thank Sir Frank, Claire and the Williams family for the opportunity to be part of this great British brand.”