Formula 1 News

Williams places faith in family fortunes

Claire Williams, 36, became the second woman to take a major role in running a modern Formula One team.
Saturday, March 30, 2013

LONDON, March 29, 2013 (AFP/T. Collings) - Frank Williams is a bold and enterprising man who built one of Formula One's greatest teams out of nothing. In his earliest days, and during some of his most difficult periods of challenging cash flow problems, he even resorted to running his business out of a traditional red telephone call box.

Or so the old stories go.

He used his charm and wit to succeed, as he has done through four decades of struggles and triumphs that have often seen the team declared as the epitome of British courage and quality.

He also demonstrated great courage and an indefatigable spirit, overcoming car crash injuries that left him in a wheelchair to continue leading his team all over the world.

This week, in the wake of the death of his wife Virginia, he made another typically bold step by announcing that his daughter Claire had been promoted to become deputy team principal in a move that "created a clear succession path".

In other words, Frank -- one of the toughest characters in one of the most 'macho' of all the elite global sports -- had decided to hand over, in due course, to a woman.

Claire Williams, 36, became the second woman to take a major role in running a modern Formula One team. 

Last season, Monisha Kaltenborn was promoted to team principal at Sauber. In the cut-throat world of F1's movers and shakers, they will need to be as skilled in the politics of their business as they are in management of their own people.

The F1 paddock's inner circle of powerful forces is not known as the "Piranha Club" for nothing.

Williams has retained her role as commercial director, leading the team's marketing, communications and sponsorship activities, a job she has developed successfully after working her way up.

"I have grown up in the sport and have learnt the ropes from one of Formula One's legendary team principals. As a result I feel well equipped for this new challenge," she said.

"I understand the commitment that every person within the team gives each day to see our car out on the track and I am determined to see us back at the top."

The Williamses with Ecclestone after Maldonado's vicotry in Spain last year. (LAT Photo)

Frank Williams, 70, added: "Over the past decade, Claire has worked tirelessly for Williams. Her knowledge of the sport and passion for the team is unquestionable and I'm proud to say that during her time here she has proven herself to be one of our most valuable assets.

"This appointment also had my wife's blessing. I know she would have been incredibly proud to have seen Claire taking on this position by my side."

Her promotion could prove to be timely as the team fight to overcome a poor start to the season in which they failed to score a point in the opening races in Australian and Malaysia.

After a return to form last year that peaked with a Spanish Grand Prix victory, the Britain-based outfit came into 2013 feeling they were well-placed to build on the momentum.

Instead, they were left baffled by a lack of performance that has been blamed on the introduction of a new high-tech exhaust system.

Technical director Mike Coughlan said this week that they believe they have identifed their problems and will improve.  

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