Sir Frank Williams, who oversaw the eight world constructors’ championships for his team between 1980 and 1997, has taken another step back with the announcement today that he is to step down from the board of the team he founded.
This highly phased process follows on from his partner Patrick Head withdrawing from the F1 team at the end of last year.
Williams, who will be 70 years old next month, described it as “the next stage in the gradual, but inevitable process of handing over the reins”. He remains team principal for the moment, but that will surely change at some point too.
Williams is the last of the “old guard” team principals, like Ron Dennis, Jean Todt and Flavio Briatore, all of whom have moved on from running F1 teams.
At the same time, Williams’ daughter Claire has been promoted to the board. Claire has worked her way up through the business, mainly in the communications side and she now takes over the critical responsibility for sponsorship, media and communications. She will also represent the Williams’ family’s interests on the board. Her father is still a 51% shareholder, even if Head has now sold the majority of his shares via last year’s flotation.
Adam Parr, Williams chairman said, “Claire will be accountable for acquiring new partners for the Williams F1 Team as well as continuing to be responsible for ensuring effective communication about the team and the Group as a whole.”
That’s a very significant responsibility; one that has been handled recently by Dominic Reilly, who’s leaving the team to set up his own business. Although there are indications that his business will work alongside Williams in some areas.
“This is an opportune moment,” said Sir Frank. “For me to consider my own role in the team. I turn 70 in April and I have decided to signal the next stage in the gradual but inevitable process of handing over the reins to the next generation by stepping down from the Board at the end of this month. This is not as dramatic a move as it may appear: I shall continue to work full-time as Team Principal and I shall continue to attend all Board meetings as observer