Mar.3 (Reuters) Team principal Frank Williams signaled the end of an era on Friday with his decision to follow co-founder Patrick Head into retirement and step down from the board of the GP team
Williams and Head, who left the board at the end of December after selling more than half of his shares, founded the team in 1977 and went on to oversee 113 grand prix wins, nine constructors’ titles and seven drivers’ crowns.
“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,” Williams said in a statement.
“This is not as dramatic a move as it may appear,” he noted, however. “I shall continue to work full-time as team principal and I shall continue to attend all board meetings as observer.”
Williams, whose daughter Claire will join the board on April 1 as newly-appointed director of marketing and communications, will also remain as the majority shareholder in Williams Grand Prix Holdings PLC.
“It is no secret that Claire is my daughter but I am proud to say that she has fought hard to earn this appointment and of all the battles she has had to fight, the prejudices of her father were not the least challenging,” said Williams.
The British-based company has been listed since an initial public share offer in Frankfurt last March.
The team, who will be using Renault engines this season, last won a race in 2004. Their current drivers are Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado and Brazilian Bruno Senna, nephew of the late triple champion Ayrton who died in a Williams in 1994.
The team suffered their worst season last year, finishing ninth overall with just five points.
Williams has already established a clear line of succession at the company, with chairman Adam Parr taking over much of the day-to-day running of the business.
“If for whatever reason I couldn’t come in to do my job, Adam would fill the gap,” Williams, who has been a tetraplegic since 1986 after fracturing his spine in a car accident, told this month’s edition of F1 Racing magazine.
“He’s not a racer but, in a way, that’s probably an advantage in these distinctly commercial days. He’s very good at making financial decisions and working out cost-to-benefit. And he can hold his own in the F1 meetings.”
Under Sir Frank’s watch, Williams made their grand prix debut as a constructor at the 1978 Argentine GP and since then has contested 572 races, winning nine F1 constructors’ championships, seven F1 drivers’ titles, scoring 113 victories in the process.