Although talk of a Russian Formula 1 team is not new, now reports suggest that Russian billionaire Dmitry Mazepin is looking to buy Williams and thus ensuring his son Nikita has a seat on the grid at some point in the near future.
Clearly borrowing from Lawrence Stroll’s “How To Get Your Son Into F1 With Lots Of Money” manual, Mazepin senior has already lined up a series of private tests for his 19-year-old son using a two-year-old Mercedes chassis during the course of this season.
Last year, deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak told Tass news agency that a Russian F1 team was being considered with approval from the highest echelons of government, “I know there are many lovers of motorsports in Russia and also wealthy businessmen who are ready to invest in the creation of a Russian F1 team. The result of our meeting with auto-makers should be the creation of a Russian F1 car.”
Fast forward to the present and it appears Mazepin is considering Willaims as an option to launch what could well become ‘Forza Russia’ in the top flight and sooner rather than later.
Tass confirmed this week: “The main shareholder of the company Uralkali, Dmitry Mazepin, is negotiating the purchase of the Williams F1 team.”
Worth noting that Mazepin was beaten by the Stroll-led consortium for the ownership of Force India, which now is Racing Point. The Russiam entrepreneur was unhappy with the process and aggrieved by losing out to the Canadian billionaire.
These days Williams is in a perilous state, suffering the results of gross mismanagement over the years which has culminated in where they are today: well and truly anchored to the bottom of the pecking order with little if any light at the end of the tunnel.
As much as the spin doctors try they cannot hide the fact that the once illustrious, and dominant team, is in crisis not only because of a massively underperforming package but also because they are financially strapped while Paddy Lowe’s cowardly departure has left the place in a shambles.
Sir Patrick Head has been summoned out of retirement to steady the ship and, to be frank, that’s all he will be able to do in the short term.
For the long-term, it is clear that the current leadership of the sport’s third most successful constructor are out of their depth and best removed before they further sink the ship.
Furthermore, by all accounts, the financial situation at Williams is precarious thus an injection of Russian roubles will be most welcome and needed to get them out of the deep hole they are in currently.
Williams is one of the last of the legendary ‘Garagistes’ teams that were once the backbone of the sport when it boomed in the eighties and nineties.
Over the years Tyrrell has morphed into BAR, Honda, Brawn and Mercedes; Stewart Grand Prix spawned Jaguar which is now Red Bull; Minardi became Toro Rosso; Benetton is now Renault; Jordan has had several transformations over the past three decades and right now it is known as Racing Point.
The sport needs Williams to survive, thrive and win again – for that to happen Mazepin senior (and his money) might just be what the Grove-based organisation needs to turn the corner.
Meanwhile, young Nikita is marking time to step up to the top flight in the best way possible thanks to Daddy’s billions which appear to be the way to get into F1 these days when all else fails, namely buy a team!
So no surprise if and when “Команда Сила России Ф1” aka “Forza Russia F1 Team” is born.
Big Question: Will Mazepin money be good for Williams?