Will The New Williams Ownership Birth Sudden Changes?

George Russell (GBR) Williams Racing FW43.
British Grand Prix, Friday 31st July 2020. Silverstone, England.

Around over a year and a half ago, with their troubles not knowing where to end, Williams team principal Claire Williams was quoted saying, “Only over a dead body will the team be sold to any entity.”

While there’s little sense to revisit that then-trending quote by one of the most earnest team principals in the current firmament of F1, perhaps it suffices to say, there’s a reason why Formula 1 is called a really unpredictable sport.

When you do not know what might happen in the final lap of a race or what might transpire seconds from the start, how on earth can one expect to control what the future has in store?

Williams, a few hours back, were sold to a major investment firm from the USA. But the team’s woes, to be honest, have been too many to quote. For instance, there was a time where the entire crew was left red-faced when it failed to arrive for the 2019 Pre-season testing on time.

To some, the change in Williams’ ownership might have seemed a sudden development, to most others, however, the writing was on the wall. Not only because the team wasn’t able to deliver anything substantial on the driver’s or the constructor’s rankings, but also because, the lack of competitive performances weren’t earning the team anything lucrative or worthy of taking note, in the sponsors or revenue department.

In a sport so steeped in massive competitiveness and boundless speed, the commerce of the sport functions differently, and often uninterestingly, so to speak. A lack of performances leads to lack of interest from brands and sponsors; and therefore, a lack of commerce.

In a sport rewarding to success, the consequences of not going strongly on the grid can hurt.

The team’s been through a lot

In their recent history, despite the big noise that one of the sport’s old guards fetched courtesy a return- Robert Kubica inking a deal with Williams for 2019 (the deal that happened toward 2018-season end)- things didn’t change for the famous English Constructor, a team for which the likes of Ayrton Senna, Damon Hill, and several formidable icons contested in the past.

The only bright hope for a team that last stepped on the podium back in 2017, at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, is George Russell. Besides beating the much-more experienced Kubica in qualifying throughout 2019, the English driver has already done as well as removing Williams from being the backmarkers for 2020 (outperforming Alfa Romeo time and again this season).

But of course, things can also change for the better, right? And one might feel and cannot be blamed for thinking so, that the much-wanted change has arrived.

Although in truth, the purist would have hoped a strongly (and solidly)engineered car, one that’s the desperate need of the hour, among other things suggestive of change, should have happened (from) within.

So while Williams might not be the team that makes dominant headlines on any given day, in the current context, they are the ones making noise in this mini-break before round seven approaches with the Belgian Grand Prix.

But the first of the man anxieties that spring to life is this

The first big question that the ownership change posits is whether the team name will continue to exist, it being one of the most iconic independent identities in the sport.

The answer to that is a straightforward one: yes. What is poised to remain unchanged is not just the team name but also the chassis name FW.

Big relief?

The team’s new owners, a multi-billion dollar outfit that it may be, are keen to retain the ‘Williams culture.’

It’s a lasting legacy that has a forty year history behind it.

The next important question is whether the team will stay in its original factory?

Although, the new owners are American, there are no immediate or even long-term plans in sight to move away from the long-standing base at Oxfordshire-based Grove.

The intent to not jump to radical changes was indicated by a recent press statement from none other than Dorliton Chariman, Mr. Matthew Savage, “We also recognise the world class facilities at Grove and confirm that there are no plans to relocate

Team ownership

Yet another query that might top everyone’s mindspace is whether a new dynamic leadership structure is slated to replace the old luminaries?

To that end, it’s foremost important to understand that a business entity whose end aim is to gather revenues and thus, lead to some kind of buzz may not necessarily be inclined to shun existing structures.

Therefore, it doesn’t seem likely that the existing management systems will be on their way out. In fact, on the contrary, Dorliton, big on the usage of the term ‘partnership’, maintain long-term business success is what is being targeted, which could stem from the team’s long-standing history and culture.

To quote F1.com on the developing story, the following is important to note:

Dorilton will now work with Williams to carry out a detailed review of the business to “determine in which areas new investment should be directed”.

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