It’s all change at Williams in 2019, two new drivers in Robert Kubica and George Russell as well as a new title sponsor but the biggest change they really need is to hoist themselves from the bottom rung of the Formula 1 pecking order.
A reset was needed in the family-run business. Sir Frank Williams’ remarkable story is well told as is that of his daughter and team heir Claire Williams, along with McLaren the last of the old ‘garagistes’ – both great racing organisations became so mighty at one point before sliding to the wrong end of a grid they once dominated.
The magnitude of the task ahead is no obstacle to Claire, undaunted she told Racer, “This is our family’s team, so there is a lot riding on that. One of the reasons why I took this job was to protect not just my dad’s but my mom’s legacy in this sport. It’s a legacy that we’re enormously proud of. So there’s that pressure.”
“And I care very deeply about the reputation of this team, I care very deeply about the people that work for us and I want to make sure that they have a team that they can be proud of and that this team survives for many, many, many years to come in our sport.”
“So I have a huge personal investment, but I wouldn’t be doing anything else. I love what I do, I’m very lucky to do what I do, and I actually find the challenge probably more invigorating than if we were just happily cruising around in P4 and grabbing the occasional podium.”
With Sir Frank receding further into the background Claire has had to step up and put in the graft, a role she relishes, “I’m prepared for that and I’ve got my sleeves rolled up and I’m going to fight with every inch of my being in order to achieve what I want Williams to achieve and I won’t give up until I do.”
“I’ll go down fighting if I have to, but I will continue to fight for this team because I believe in it. I believe it has a place in this sport, I believe it still has a very great relevance and it shouldn’t be where it is at the moment.”
“I also want to put my stamp on Williams. So a lot of the work we’re doing around cultural transformation, business transformation, I’m leading and I’m driving that through the business so that I put my stamp on it.”
“But I would never want to lose Frank and Patrick’s legacy either. So it’s important for me to protect the past but also to carve out and protect the future,” added the 42-year-old Williams team chief.
Williams last won a Grand Prix in 2012 when Pastor Maldonado triumphed out of the blue in Spain to notch up their 114th victory in the top flight. Prior to that, they had last won at the 2004 Brazilian Grand Prix with Juan Pablo Montoya.
The Grove-based outfit last won a F1 world title in 1997 with Jacques Villeneuve. Last year they finished last in the world championship.