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3 minutes with.. Frank Williams
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3 minutes with.. Frank Williams
Posted By:   |  08 Jun 2009   |  5:58 pm GMT  |  0 comments

Following on from my earlier post, Frank Williams said some very interesting things on Saturday afternoon, so here they are in more detail.

He covers the current 2010 entry crisis, explains Max Mosley’s motivation, looks at the problem of engine supply if there is a split and talks about possibly housing one of the new teams on his site.
Picture 23

What is the situation with FOTA, you are suspended, will you go back?

“We are out of FOTA, expelled. Normally when you are expelled, you don’t go back to school or not that one, anyway. In or out, that’s fine. If we were invited back then that would be different.”

So you are committed to the FIA?

“If there are two championships we would want to be in the FIA F1 championship.”

Don’t you want to beat the best of the best?
“Depends on who the best of the best are at any one time doesn’t it? If the manufacturers start their own championship? It’s tough s**t

“It’s not a war, there are two positions, one is the FIA (with Bernie) and the other is a group which is mainly engine manufacturers and if they don’t agree with Max they may well go and form another championship.”

What do you think of the calibre of some of the new teams making entries?
“I started at the bottom and I guess some of these teams would be starting [there] given that there is quite a big gap presently between the teams in terms of know-how and technology.”

What will you do for an engine if there is a split?
“The key feature in all of this is the supply of engines. At the last meeting before the removal of Williams from FOTA it was not lost on me that the engines on the grid today are brilliant pieces of engineering and they almost never go wrong and they last three or four times longer than Cosworth 30 years ago.”

How is the relationship with Toyota since you were expelled from FOTA?
“Tested it a little bit for the first ten minutes then it settled back to normal. We have a contract (for next year) and we would wish to continue. I don’t think the damage goes that deep. I’m very happy with an up to date modern engine. The problem with the Cosworth is that it was fine in 2006 but there’s a lot of catching up to do.”

Do you think the situation can be resolved? What will Ferrari do?
“Ferrari is a key point. The curious thing is that Ferrari is not part of the FIA camp. I don’t think anyone is going to die about this. Max doesn’t want this to turn to pooh, spread all over the papers for the next six months, what damage [people] did to F1. I think there is a will to let’s be human for a change and talk to each other.

“Max isn’t looking for a fight, he just wants to avoid having teams leave, smaller ones in particular because they cannot afford to continue. I would say that he shouldn’t worry if he has six or eight or ten entries, it doesn’t sound like hard times out there, now some of them are hoping to attract the money, but there’s one or two will turn up.”

Williams has a big workforce and state of the art equipment, how will you get the company under a £40 million budget cap?
“That’s an emotional question, because Patrick Head and I have spent quite a few years building up the business. We’ve made money, lost money.

“The next time around, after the budget cap it would make us easier to make profits and remain a healthy viable, saleable business eventually. So one part of me says it would be handy; we could do with a financial breather. But the other part of me says to dismantle Williams to get down to the £40milion I don’t know. It will mean further cuts.”

Do you see some of the new teams being taken onto the factory site of the existing teams to share facilities and so on?
“That is going to happen. We are looking closely at doing that. With a young team which has enough money to do a serious job for a couple of years. Max encouraging teams to help those teams. Normally we’d say [no]. But it’s a case of having enough good teams in case other teams do disappear and it helps us spread our costs and in the case of the budget cap we could offset some of the costs and charges onto the second team. It’s book-keeping and it’s someone else’s problem.”

HQ at Grove: Room for a small one?

HQ at Grove: Room for a small one?


How does your budget now compare with the last year when you won the world title?
“We are spending around £90 to £100 million this year. In 1997 I think we never spent more than £40 million, but we had a free engine.’

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  1. EndofF1 says:

    I had a lot of respect for this guy…. guess what.. he doesn’t deserve it…
    He clearly wants all the FOTA teams to leave so that he will have an advantage next year… what a loser??huh
    he can not dream of beating the best and that is why he is talking crap….
    Media can whine whatever they want…. It is no doubt that people are bored this year watching f1 races.. it has become so much predictable…. Ferrari and Mclaren are loved all over the world. It is not possible for any single team to just come and wipe off what they have achieved over the years….
    Only british fans and media are talking about Brawn being so superior this year…. lets not forget that they worked for an year for this.. had we had in testing season this year Ferrari and Mclaren would have been on top in matter of few races….
    I am really glad I witnessed a great couple of seasons (2007 & 2008). Guess can’t dream of seeing a season like that again….

  2. Howard Hughes says:

    Um, I’m guessing that if neither side blinks, and the FOTA teams split from the FIA, then they’ll no doubt have to instantly change their group name, no? Cos’ they won’t be able to refer to the copyrighted ‘Formula One’-TA any more…

  3. OctaBech says:

    When reading about William’s budget I took myself in feeling that £100mill was spare change.

    I had to put the F1 team budgets in context to another other sport I enjoy to grasp the size.
    One big team in F1 like Ferrari or Toyota would be able to finance all international cycling team plus anti doping control and still have money to spare.

    No that doesn’t do the F1 budgets justice, a bike is after all just a bike.
    In my country the government managed to remove the waiting list to hospitals which had been building up over several years for half of the money Toyota spend on F1 in one year.

    That’s some crazy numbers and quite honestly not justified by the end product.
    The F1 cars are alienated to road cars, there’s little to no overtaking, the cars look almost the same due to(needed) regulations and the technology is kept secret(for a good reason).

    If all the teams cut down their budgets in secret then I wouldn’t be surprised if no one noticed.

    How is the budget cap put in perspective to other auto sports? Does the £45mil cap + driver salaries + engine costs still enjoy a healthy margin to the closest competitors?

  4. jimjones says:

    The NFL Salary cap was 37.1 million in 1995 and is now 127 million in 2009. An increase of almost 3 1/2 times.
    I keep hearing that F1 is the biggest sporting event in the world except for the Olympics. If true, then the team budgets should dwarf the NFL players pay. The NFL cap doesn’t include coaches, trainers, office staff… Only players. So, the each team’s budget is way more each year than the 127mil.
    So, if F1 really is the biggest sporting event in the world, why would you have a budget cap that is less (inflation) than what Williams spent back in 1995? It makes no sense.

  5. Dan says:

    “That’s book keeping, and it’s someone elses’ problem.”

    Really? Someone who is contemplating laying off huge amounts of staff thinks book-keeping is someone elses’ problem? Talk about flippancy.

  6. Rusty0256 says:

    FW is a wily old fox.

    There is not a lot of advantage in him hanging out with the FOTA boys. In a new series he’s not going to be any better off financially and they’ll still be kicking his arse on the track.

    In a re-vamped, privateer F-1 who do you suppose is going to be top dog; and I do mean top-dog by some considerable margin? Williams will do a Brawn and win the 2010 World Championship with races to spare.

    The same can also be said of Mallaya at Force India. What’s the point of running down the back with FOTA when you can gather regular podiums (and maybe even an occasional win) in a re-booted F-1?

  7. Michael says:

    I don’t understand all the negative comments on this thread. Frank Williams has been in F1 for 30 years. Lets not forget his record of winning championships.

    Williams are the only privateer team to give the big teams a bit of a challenge whilst other privateer teams have come and gone. Brawn is really a Honda this year with a merc engine. Next year, on a small budget they won’t be so competitive.

    The last few years have been clear. They build a good car but 4 or 5 races in they’re slipping backwards because they can’t keep up with the development of the manufacturers and their budgets.

    I personally don’t think anyone will leave F1. The manufacturers still need F1. Whether thats running a full team or just supplying engines.

    For me it would be more of a loss to lose Williams over any manufacturer.

    On a different note. James, I don’t like to go back to old topics but….. on Sunday we saw Vettel unable to get past Button. How much of this do you think was down to the new Double Diffuser. The “old” diffuser was to reduce turbulent air and allow closer racing.

  8. Antoine says:

    Outstanding photo :-)

  9. Bob Massey says:

    While I would hate to be considered a conspiracy theorist, I have noticed recently that FIA is attempting to establish F1 as a brand beyond the normal logos at the start and end of the race broadcasts.

    Given that Formula1 is striving to place itself as as big if not bigger than the teams, is it any coincidence that FIA branded merchandise has appeared on the shelves of Tesco just days before Fathers Day?

    Obviously they’re working on building the brand, but at twelve quid for a good quality embroidered polo shirt, the manufacturers teams should look to their marketing plans!

  10. Jeremiah says:

    Best wishes for Frank and his team. They are the essence of F1.
    All I want to see out of this conflict is good racing on beautiful historic tracks.

  11. “I started at the bottom and I guess some of these teams would be starting [there]…”
    It’s a shame that Ferrari have forgotten that they too started at the bottom.
    At least the new blood in F1 will be more interested in racing than politicking.

  12. Pegs says:

    It should be remembered that whilst broadly split between the FIA and FOTA within this issue everyone is running their own agenda and looking for ways to capitalise.
    This argument about governance and who should run F1 rules and regs is a cover for the headaches that were never resolved properly post the FISA/FOCA war.
    It is really about the heart and soul of the sport.
    I for one am heartliy sick of the sport being looked upon and as used a tool for the marketing men of the big manufacturers and big business owned teams.
    CVC will pander to the biggest buck as they want return on their investment and want to ultimately have a commercial concern they can sell at the highest premium.
    The biggest bucks in F1 are obviously those investing the most. And its that investment and the level of it you have got to question. Budgets of 400 to 500 million per annum cannot be justified by the returns generated from the sport alone. It needs access to big money and that can only come from the boardrooms of the manufacturers and big business. This is based on gaining returns from sources within and more improtantly outside the sport. Brand exposure in growth and expanding markets, hence the movement of F1 venues into those areas of the middle and far east. This cost is unsustainable to “racing” teams. They exist to compete and make money from competing. Their whole wealth generation is dependent on the sport and the money it can get from sponsorship and winnings. They cannot subsidise their budgets by accessing some marketing budget, aimed at returning that money in increaed sales of a product.
    Frank Williams is doing what he needs to do to ensure Williams continues as a racing team and stays a viable proposition. He cannot leave F1 tomorrow and have Williams continue as an entity. And that is what this battle is about really. The soul of F1. Is it a racing series for racing teams or a prestigious money generating marketing tool for big business??

  13. dave walker says:

    I may get bashed for this but here goes,
    Frank williams and his team have done more for F1 than any other team, FACT. They shown that with hard work and engineering brilliance thay could take on the so called “bigger teams”
    sure they struggled in the early years just like the new teams will, but they have been at in now for over 30 years and deserve more recognition in my oppinion, why should they stand by FOTA its full of manufactures or heavly manufactured backed teams, after all they come and go, and they will.
    Williams have and always should look after number 1, after all do you think if the shoe was on the other foot manufactures would be be backing successfull independent teams, yep didnt think so either, i know there is a bigger issue with costs and rightly so, there is to much money being spent, but you cannot have the tail wagging the dog, think of the message and the image of the FIA this sends to all other sports governed by the FIA.
    F1 wont fall apart because of this, F1 will fall apart because manufactures are trying to cut them selves a bigger more taster slice of the metaphorical pie, it all about power and the FIA has it and now the manufacture(FOTA) think they are now a force to be reconed with and demand some power to (because there not asking for it), they wont get it (and they havent) so they will talk of a new series (which they have), but it wont happen and a couple of teams may use this as an excuse to make there over publisised exit from the sport claming its no longer “great” if they ever new such a word.
    Next season will will still be turning on F1 because it is the pinical of motorsport, sure they may be dumbed down slightly, but thats still 10 notchs above anyother 4 wheel motorsport, FACT.

  14. phil c says:

    Lets see how long williams last without the manufactures. Yes they will dominate f1, because there is no one else to compete with them. I bet they will jump ship if a new series starts

    I hope the manufactures leave, and send the FIA, and Bernie broke. F1 is the biggest draw card in the world because of the manufacture teams, bernie and max cannot deny that. Without them f1 would not be what it is today.

    I hope FOTA merge with Moto GP. That is the word on the street. They have all the tracks and everytthing arranged. It would be a simple replication of the Moto GP series just in reverse order. There is nothing stopping them. Im sure tv companies will pick it up in a heart beat so would sponsors. Just imagine FOTA cars going around mugello, Phillip Island, laguna seca it would be brilliant. im sure these tracks would love to have real f1 cars. The track rights would be a 1/3 of what bernie charges, the final product is a million times better and track prices halved instantly. Everybody makes money, not just Bernie and the FIA.

  15. Antoine says:

    So true, I wish the moderator can add (like this and don’t like this) buttons that way you’ll get to see how many people agree with you.

  16. David T says:

    So the other teams were not working last year? Brawn couldn’t test either!! Brawn have made Ferrari and McLaren look pathetic this year, just as Frank Williams has done in the past and hopefully will again.

  17. James Allen says:

    Good idea, we’ll look into that

  18. Lee Gilbert says:

    Good shout as EndofF1 clearly is jumping to some conclusions here about Frank W. I vote I disagree and do not like

  19. James Allen says:

    Jim, thanks for that. It’s always good to have some context.

  20. rpaco says:

    What is the NFL???

  21. OctaBech says:

    True but my questions is the same as the one the Americans are asking themselves in the ongoing debate about NFL, MLB and NBA budgets; is it really worth it?
    Have we the fans gotten more pleasure out of the end product?

    I know that certain people get a rush from the F1 budget being bigger than the budgets of other sports, but I’m choosing to overlook those because NFL players aren’t F1 drivers nor are they car engineers. In short there’s no need to compete with their salaries.

    The important thing about F1 is to attract the very best of the crop in 4 wheel racing. As long as the team budgets are big enough to ensure this I do not see a problem, hence my question about how the budget cap compares to other auto sports.
    i.e. it’s without importance if a driver like Hamilton earns 3 mill more or less, what’s of importance is where he is racing, which will be where the money, prestige and passion takes him.

    I can’t tell if the budget cap will be lower than Williams’ budget ten years ago, because I do not know how big the inflation of the £ has been compared the the inflation of the currency used by their suppliers, nor do I know how big the uncapped engine, driver and PR expenses will be for the team.
    Is this year’s £100mil budget on for the car or the entire corporation? I don’t know this either.

  22. phil c says:

    The value of the f1 championship is the difference. Not only that, i have no doubt frank would love to beat ferrari, mclaren, toyota etc etc. Litespeed, lola are nobodies when it comes to f1.

    The prestige of f1 will be gone without the big teams. It will survive but never reach the hieghts of today.

    F1 is dead without the best drivers and teams, plain and simple.

  23. Snail says:

    Quoting out of context. The book keeping comment was referring to resolving the costs associated with running Williams and one or two other teams on the same site (precisely to avoid the redundancies you are ranting about).

    Most definitely not flippant. Any sensible business person concentrates on running the business and making it viable – detail issues are left to the experts, in this case accountants.

  24. Roberto says:

    Possibly Max Mosley “Genius” idea is that most of the dumped staff will go to any of the new teams either is three or six of them on the grid next year.

    It is pretty amazing how the players on the sport have let this to happen and fans being so disrespected.

  25. rpaco says:

    Excellent I would definitely watch FOTAGP or MotoFOTA

    If We had combined meetings then most of the track would get rubbered in! Only problem would be the fight over who has the pits and paddock.

    And we would get @suziperry as well and perhaps James back again!

    I cannot see how FOTA can possibly continue with the FIA and retain any credibility. Both sides have dug themselves huge holes. ( A connecting tunnel is unlikely)

  26. milkboy says:

    Hear, hear.

    Why the attacks on FW. This is clearly a team struggling to survive and he has to do what he can to keep it together. Plus I do think he believes it is in the interest of the sport.

    Anybody who says that FW would love the other teams to leave to ensure himself next year’s championship is either extremely biased due to their team still being within FOTA (I am looking at you Tifosis), has not been watching the sport for more than 2-3 years or is a fool.

    FW is one of the most respected people in all of F1.

  27. Steph says:

    I agree with you Michael. FW remains one of the ‘big personalities’ of F1, with a long relationship with the sport, and some wise things to say. I’m surprised that some of James’ contributors are so willing to knock him.

    I’d happily say farewell to the faceless manufacturers. Surely with the current ecomonic crisis they’re on their backfoot anyway, with no hope of starting their own championship. I mean: How could they afford it? What would it achieve?

    If this is about racing, then I trust the likes of both Brawn and Williams, and am very glad the independents have a foot in both camps.

  28. phil c says:

    Thats until, they realised they are getting screwed by bernie and the fia. The difference is the new teams are starting with nothing, The existing teams are well established and have been asked to reduce there capabilities in a fashion which is not only crazy but ethically wrong.

    Just imagine your a company that employs 500 people and all of a sudden the government tells you, because you have a competitive business advantage aquired through strong business, good investment, etc etc and you are forced to sack/make redundant 1/2 of your work force so your competitors can catch up. This would not happen in the real world.

    Max’s idea’s in reducing cost are good and i agree money has to much of an influence on the sport, but the way he has gone about forcing it on the teams and lack of assessing the impacts of it is wrong.

    I still cannot see how you can enforce a budget cap, when there are influences between different countries which cannot be controlled by the FIA. Tax’s running cost in italy in simple terms like electricity is completely different to the uk. If uk introduce an emissions trading scheme, electricity and emission cost will be anywhere as much as 20% more expensive then a country without emissions trading schemes in place.

    Lets not forget, Williams had bmw under there wing, which made them competitive like they were in the early and mid 90′s and he pushed them away because he didn’t want them. They wanted more control of a team, yes frank may not of wanted to give up control, but it would have secured williams future and i have no doubt, made him significantly better off in dollar terms and more competive. Not only that if it wasn’t for the manufactures williams would have been dead in the water.

    Look at mclaren who took Merc on board, Ron dennis made millions from that investment and has established a product which is well known and make millions outside of f1.

  29. Richard Mee says:

    Personally, I would not want to walk around with FIA on my shirt – it’s hardly an association with glamour afterall. [Sorry mod] ; )

  30. OctaBech says:

    That’s a bit far fetched.

    I mean it’s after all “Britain’s got Talent” and not “Susan Boyle got Talent”.

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