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Williams F1 team appoints a new CEO
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Posted By: James Allen  |  29 May 2013   |  12:31 pm GMT  |  25 comments

The upheaval of the management of the Williams F1 team continues in the wake of Toto Wolff’s departure to become motorsport director of Mercedes; CEO Alex Burns has left the company to be replaced by former Janguar and Aston Martin boss Mike O’Driscoll.

O’Driscoll is no stranger to Williams having sat as a non-executive director since 2011. He has a wealth of knowledge, experience and contacts from the automotive industry and will act as Group CEO in a new structure which pulls Williams Hybrid Engineering into the same management group as the F1 team.

He will work alongside the recently appointed deputy team principal Claire Williams, Sir Frank’s daughter.

Although it earns a significant amount more than other midfield teams from its commercial deal with F1, thanks to its long history of past success, Williams clearly wishes to increase income by diversifying further, looking for revenue streams beyond its F1 racing and hybrid activities into new business areas around the automotive sector and O’Driscoll is well placed to lead this.

Claire Williams said, “Today’s announcement is not only great news for the company, but is further evidence of the execution of our long term strategy for business success. Mike brings with him a unique mix of skills and capabilities and he is a passionate motorsport enthusiast with significant automotive industry experience. I have every confidence that he can drive the business forward to deliver an improved performance for both the Williams F1 Team and Williams Advanced Engineering.”

Williams also recently took on a new marketing director, Chris Murray, formerly a senior account director at F1′s leading sponsor finder agency Just Marketing.

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25 Comments
  1. Steve says:

    James,
    I can’t shake the feeling Williams are going backwards more and more, can they make it back to a top team?

    They have to be struggling with sponsors and $$ to pump into development.. What do you think?

    1. Pranav says:

      I don’t think they even care about F1 at this point. They’re making money by staying in F1 and harnessing some of their technologies and knowledge and R&D and making deals with OEMs and car companies. Not something most midfield teams can say today. Perhaps because the people being chosen to lead Williams F1 after Frank aren’t racers like he was.

      They will survive, probably flourish in other avenues. The F1 team is but a shell of what it once was, and I don’t have any hopes for them.

  2. Adam says:

    Good to see Williams taking a step forward with its team structure.
    Look forward to seeing them back on top!

    1. Random 79 says:

      Agreed – and hopefully it turns out well – but it just seems that lately that for Williams it’s been one step forward, two steps back.

      I would love to see them back on top (or even top three) and best of luck to them, but I can’t see it happening any time soon.

  3. Anne says:

    I´m very happy Williams is shaken things up. And I wish them the best of luck, specially if they have hired someone from Jaguar and Aston Martin(happy 100 and many more)

    But there are reports about the tyres in Canada.Well we won´t have new ones after all. What´s going on?

  4. goferet says:

    Congrats to Mike O’Driscoll on his new appointment, with his vast experience, he’s the sort of person the team needs to attract potential sponsors and deal with the F1 politics.

    It’s good Williams are trying to re-invent their management structure but to be honest, what the team needs is an overhaul of the engineering department for with better engineers, this means better cars which in turn attracts better drivers and ultimately more sponsors.

    So yeah, Williams would be wise to court (at all costs) Lotus’ departing chief designer James Allison.

    Other than that, I wish the team good luck and wish Claire lots of success as a team principal.

    1. Random 79 says:

      +1

  5. Scuderia McLaren says:

    How did this team win the Spanish GP in merit last year and in a year with stable regs produce a car that is just crap. What is going on at Grove. They make it so hard to like that team. They are an embarrassment considering their history and apparent infrastructure. They should be putting teams like Force India, Lotus, Sauber to shame, not being beaten or fighting with Toro Rosso’s, Marussia’s and Caterhams. My heart always has soft spot Williams but how do the upper management and engineers walk around with their heads held high spending Frank’s money for nothing. If I were a driver, I’d rather run in a Marussia with Pat Symonds..

    1. monktonnik says:

      “How did this team win the Spanish GP in merit last year and in a year with stable regs produce a car that is just crap.”

      The same question could be asked about Mclaren.

      I agree that it is a shame that a team of their calibre haven’t been able stay at the front for last ten years.

      Having said that, if Adrian Newey rejoined them we might see a return to form.

      1. Scuderia McLaren says:

        There is no way the same question can be asked of McLaren.

        Let’s just take a gander at the recent history of McLaren as the critisism that is leveled at Williams in no way should be leveled at McLaren.

        McLaren Stats in the last 6 Years

        GP Wins.    WDC.     WCC. 
        2007 –       8.            2/3.     1st*
        2008 –      6.            1/7.     2nd. 
        2009 –      2.            5/12.   3rd. 
        2010 –      5.            4/5.     2nd. 
        2011 –      6.            2/5.     2nd. 
        2012 –       7.            4/5.     3rd. 

        McLaren have scored multiple GP wins in every season of the last 6 years, even that “crap” 2009 year.

        McLaren have not finished out of the Top 3 in the Constructors Championship in that six years.

        McLaren have had a lead driver in the Top 5 in the Drivers Championship in each year in the last six years. That includes 2009. In that time, they have 1 WDC and 2 Runner Ups.

        Only Ferrari have a similar record in recent history. Any other team would have loved to have this consistency.

        Subjectively speaking, many believe they produced the overall fastest car in 3 of those 6 years. (07,08,12). Don’t forget Lewis also had and outside chance at the WDC at the final round if 2010.

        Apples and Oranges is how I’d describe Williams and McLaren comparisons.

        This is why u dislike hearing Lewis pan McLaren. He had many opportunities. Took a few. Dropped a lot.

  6. Rich B says:

    any news that’ll help them get back to winning form is great news. they’ve got a long way to go but i hope they do, its sad to see them struggle so much.

  7. CarlH says:

    I wonder who the front-runner is to replace this guy when he leaves in five minutes time?

    It seems like Williams has fitted an ejector seat in every office.

    1. Tank says:

      Absolutely – the attrition rate for senior managers at Williams is terrible at the moment. When they had to replace Toto Wolff after he exerted his influence and got his drivers in to the driving seats, they had to resort to near-nepotism to bring in some stability. At least Claire would have a harder time walking than her predecessors!

  8. mhilgtx says:

    Hopefully he means stability at long last for Williams. Also that he has authority to make whatever changes necessary to turn the team around and not just to consolidate it’s gains in the business side.

  9. mj says:

    Williams needs a serious shake up, there is something really adrift with this team. I can’t help but wonder if the company has to many outside distractions hurting it’s F1 operations. either way, it needs to be stripped down to bare bones and started again. The team have shown no signs of being anywhere near the top teams since 2005-2006 now. Perhaps the 2014 reg changes will help them, but they seem to have lost the plot in recent years

  10. Chris says:

    Sad to see no one comments when James posts about the rest of the grid. Williams is one of the cornerstones of our sport. Hopefully they’ll finally move back up the grid and back to where they belong. All the team boss’s up the front end of the grid, ie Horner, Domenicali, Boullier, Whitmarsh etc are just not in the same league as Sir Frank (and in my mind never will be).

  11. Elie says:

    Could it be since they became a publically listed company that Williams really lost its soul as a race team. It was great strategically and financially because it bought them a much more solid footing but it seems to have lost the ability to retain control of top technical people. They no doubt built a great car last year but then why do all these people just move on ?. Good luck to O’Driscoll I think being in a non executive director role for a while suggest he has stability with the team but what they need is someone to drive them forward technically and operationally. They have two very quick drivers and given the right car will be competitive but how much longer can they retain them even if they get chances in other teams

  12. ACx says:

    Thought it was CEO of the Williams Group, not the F1 team?

  13. Aleks Slovenia says:

    Biggest mistake for Williams is that they did not go the Mclaren way and make cars, this way you can go into the history and your name is worth buying and brand for the future.

    When the money runs out somebody will buy them and rename them. Such a shame…

    1. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

      They had a successful link with Renault for many years, assisting with the engineering of hot hatches.

  14. BurgerF1 says:

    I fear that Williams will only move back to the top of the grid if it does a long-term deal with a manufacturer a bit like McLaren seems to manage. I know manufacturers can be fickle, but it would be great if Williams could get a company like Porsche back into F1 on a long-term financial and technical deal which allows them both to benefit from this new engine formula. Williams-Porsche has a rather nice ring to it.

  15. Fernando Cruz says:

    Williams needed more stability and an engineer like Mark Gillan was a very good asset. He sould never leave the team but maybe he became upset about how things were being done. Bruno Senna was also a good asset and maybe this year’s car would be better if he (and Gillan) had been retained. He had already some experience and his technical feedback was really good. Bottas may have more long term potential (like Mika Hakkinen V Damon Hill) but he’s a rookie. Also Bruno could mean more money, leading to more resources and more investment on development. But the team (or Toto Wolff?) made a choice and the result is a bad car and 0 points…

  16. Val from montreal says:

    If only Williams had the money to pay a certain Michael Schumacher back in 1996 , their destiny onward would have been so different to what it has become now … Damn shame …

    1. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

      They did have the money. They had Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve as drivers. Can’t really complain about having two world champions…

      1. Val from montreal says:

        Maybe they had some money but the amount that Schumacher was asking in 1995 was beyond Frank Williams reach …Williams wanted Michael very badly but only McLaren and Ferrari could of poney up the cash for hus services in 1996 … : ))

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