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Frank Williams steps back, Adam Parr takes over
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Frank Williams steps back, Adam Parr takes over
Posted By: James Allen  |  08 Jul 2010   |  6:30 pm GMT  |  28 comments

Today was a big day in the history of the Williams F1 team as Sir Frank Williams stepped down as chairman of the company, promoting the former CEO Adam Parr to the role.


The change was announced at a small press briefing this afternoon in the Silverstone paddock.

In practice Parr has been doing the role for several months now, so in a way nothing changes and yet symbolically it is quite significant. Williams remains the figurehead of the team and will continue to represent the team in sponsor negotiations and have a hand in hiring drivers. But at the age of 67 and paralysed since the mid 1980s, Frank doesn’t have the energy he used to have and which a Formula 1 team like Williams needs to be competitive in the marketplace. The idea is that the team is now on a path where Williams can drop out should he need to at any point through ill health.

It is a tough climate for Parr to take control and there is much work to be done. Williams lies 7th in the world championship, well behind Force India. A technical shot in the arm is long overdue.

Williams also has some sponsors to replace for next season, like Royal Bank of Scotland, which has announced its withdrawal from the sport. The team also needs to strengthen the design department after a few years of average cars.

Former chief operations officer Alex Burns becomes the new CEO in the new structure. Patrick Head and technical director Sam Michael continue to oversee technical matters, with Head seemingly as involved as ever.

Williams has been diversifying in recent years with a hybrid technology business it has established in Qatar, a hybrid deal with Porsche and an educational programme with Cambridge University Press.

It was also confirmed that the team would continue to use Cosworth engines next season. There had been speculation that a move to Renault might be on the cards.

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28 Comments
  1. VV says:

    “The team also needs to strengthen the design department after a few years of average cars.”

    “Few years” = 12 of the last 13, with only the 2003 car being any good.

  2. Zobra Wambleska says:

    Well done Sir Frank. You have long been one of my favorite people in F1, I applaud your courage in life and sport, and your incredible integrity. Thank you for all the years of exciting racing.

    1. Allan says:

      Very well said!

  3. Jason C says:

    On Cosworth: mid season now, what’s the consensus on its engine? How does it compare to the other engines? Williams is the only ‘division 1′ team to use it, so I imagine their car will be the one that others look to to evaluate it.

    Let’s hope that these changes at the top of the Williams team can bring some upturn in performance, and perhaps help to convince some more sponsors.

    1. James Allen says:

      Video coming up on that

    2. Antiriad says:

      Williams hasn’t been a ‘division 1′ team since 2005, it is firmly in ‘division 2′ or in F1 terms – the midfield.

  4. CTP says:

    Well, I don’t really think he stepped back…

    1. James B says:

      Good point. Unfortunate title.

  5. Andy Karter says:

    I hope we’ll still get to see and hear from Frank in the future. He’s a guy that can certainly say he’s been there and bought the tee shirt as far as F1 is concerned. Anything he has to say about the sport is well worth listening to and I think the sport will miss him and his ilk.

    I feel he could still make a very worth while contribution within FOTA as he knows what everybody wants.

    A great man hopefully not to be missed!

  6. ian says:

    Frank williams is a fantastic example to all of us.

    By the by, last years car was pretty good – remember the Toyota engine was well down the order on power.

  7. Stephen Kellett says:

    Wow. That was my first impression.

    Sensible move I guess. Can’t be easy living your life the way Sir Frank does. Would be nice to see Williams F1 back at the front again. Too long since they were seriously competitive.

  8. Richard Bell says:

    I’m a quadriplegic just like Sir Frank, I can tell you to have worked and perform for as long as he has is totally inspiring, it takes a lot of hard work, strength of mind and character to achieve what he has, as I said a truly inspiring man. I very much doubt you’re reading this, but if you are I salute you Frank.
    PS. Is there any chance I can have your F1 Renault Espace to convert into a chairman for me?

    1. Andy C says:

      Absolutely agree Richard. I’m sure frank is looking to enjoy stepping back from the day to day.

      I’ve always followed Williams fortunes since I started watching f1. I too hope they get back up to the sharp end.

      If only BMW had stuck with Williams they would have been a real force (and BMW would still be involved in f1).

  9. Elliot says:

    The Williams team – I’ve never quite understood why such a dominant team in the mid-1990s fell so far. How and why did that happen?

    1. tank says:

      enter the big money manufacturers.

    2. Michael Grievson says:

      Money and Adrian Newey left for Mclaren

      1. Antiriad says:

        And he left because Patrick Head wouldn’t let go and as James here points out – still hasn’t.

  10. Harvey Yates says:

    That is the end of an era. The longest serving team manager in F1, and by some distance. He and Patrick Head started the team in 1977.

    It is a loss to F1. One of the great enthusiasts for the sport.

    It won’t be the same without him at the helm.

    Thanks for the great memories.

  11. Kenny says:

    It’s harsh reminder in a way the dificulties Frank has, but as others have mentioned, he is an inspiration to everyone.
    Williams is a very much loved team for numerous reasons and it is a shame that they have had somewhat “average” cars for the past number of seasons, but they’ve kept at it, admittedly still with the same structure, but the team (personally) is still THE independent team.

    It’s also great that they do have Rubens Barrichello, a driver who has such great feel for the car and has such a vast amount of experience. Along with that he’s still got the enthusiasm to keep going and push the younger ones along!

    Williams deserve to be at the sharp end of the field.

  12. Carl 21 says:

    It’s about time Williams came up with a decent car. Not some old banger that does 1 good race a season, then never gets properly developed. They should sign me up and I will get it moving in the right direction.

  13. Midnight Toper says:

    The question is whether Parr has the balls to move Michaels sideways or out of the door. I suspect not and therefore can’t see how they’ll progress on a technical level.

    1. SKWD says:

      There is perceived to be a lack of depth of strength in the Williams design shop. Ed Wood sits beneath Sam Michael, and has been roundly criticised in many circles – along with Sam – for the performance of the cars. I do wonder if there is more to it than that.

      Ed is a good guy, with a Mech Eng degree from Manchester and a Doctorate (I believe he completed) related to aero engine performance from Oxford. Before his undergraduate days he worked on Tom Walkinshaw’s Group C cars, along with bike racing. He isn’t (or certainly wasn’t) a Newey-style boffin, but he’s bright and tenacious. He might, of course, not be being led by Sam too well, or might not in turn be leading his own team too well, but we can’t see this from outside.

      But a couple of guys (good or not) does not a good F1 shop make. Where are the staff to run the (extensive) facilities at Grove? Why can’t the team get new parts out to races fast enough to satisfy both cars? Are they so preoccupied with F3 and other revenue streams that they can’t concentrate on the F1 business enough? In short, have they spread themselves too thin and lost sight of what made them in the first place?

      We can hope that Frank’s stepping-back will allow the team to regroup around Parr but, to be frank (err, sorry), he hasn’t seemed all that inspirational so far.

      I wish Williams well. I just hope that Williams knows where it is and how to get where it needs to be from there.

      Disclosure: I was a contemporary of Ed Wood’s, in both Manchester and Oxford, but haven’t kept up with him since. I’m not revealing anything not in the public domain!

  14. Rich C says:

    “The team also needs to strengthen the design department after a few years of average cars.”

    “Patrick Head and technical director Sam Michael continue to oversee technical matters…”

    Huh? Those two statements together don’t make a lot of sense.

  15. Rich C says:

    Stunning news, anyway. The man must have enormous strength of character and mental toughness.
    Well done, by God! What an example to us all!

  16. LeighJW says:

    Since the days of Alan Jones & Clay Regazzoni I have been a follower and a fan. Here’s to more success in the future. Thanks Frank.

  17. clyde says:

    Considering that their last good car was the FW-25 of 2003 which won 4 races and their last win came courtesy Montoya in 2004 which also coincides exactly with the time sam michaels took over from Patrick head as technical director its obvious that sam michaels has brought this once great team to its knees …. its time he went

  18. Freespeech says:

    Williams are I’m afraid to say a spent force in today’s F1 and unless they tie up with a major manufacturer will never rise again.
    Biggest mistake Williams made was not to tie in Newey with equity in the team as I believe he wanted before moving to McLaren, big big mistake.

  19. Obster says:

    Thanks to Frank and the Williams team for bringing me back to F1 in 1980. He was an inspiration then and even more so today.

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