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.
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.