Williams F1 has today confirmed the recent paddock speculation that Claire Williams has become Deputy Team Principal, with the objective of succeeding her father one day.
Claire has worked within the F1 team for over ten years, starting out as a junior in the media department, rising to become head of communications and more recently a director and head of the commercial side of the team and of Investor Relations.
She is the third person to be lined up as Sir Frank’s successor in the last few years; Adam Parr was anointed heir, but Williams realised his fractious relationship with Bernie Ecclestone was not going to be helpful for the team, while Toto Wolff abruptly left the team over the winter to take up the top job at Mercedes.
Sir Frank Williams, who will soon turn 71, said, “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.
“With Claire being appointed Deputy Team Principal, I know the future of Williams is in extremely safe hands. This appointment also had Ginny’s blessing who I know would have been incredibly proud to have seen Claire taking on this position by my side.”
Claire Williams said, “I’m truly honoured to be taking on the role of Deputy Team Principal and look forward to working alongside Frank to help run the team this season and beyond. I have grown up in the sport and have learnt the ropes from one of Formula One’s legendary Team Principals and as a result I feel well equipped for this new challenge.”
It will be a significant challenge; Williams is heavily dependent on its payments from FOM and its relationship with Ecclestone as well as on sponsorship from Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA. Although they have some exciting projects in Qatar and on the hybrid technology side, they need to diversify their income streams and especially build a portfolio of large sponsors to protect themselves from any sudden withdrawals, especially with the Venezuelan backing being dependent on a fluid political situation in the wake of the death of president Hugo Chavez.
There has been quite a lot of turnover of staff at Williams recently on the engineering operations side with two senior figures Mark Gillan and Dominic Harlow moving on.
On a technical level the team has started the 2013 season on the back foot with a car which has proved uncompetitive in the first two races of the season. They are yet to score a point, along with only Caterham and Marussia.