Why Did Claire Williams Leave F1?

Published 03/05/2021, 7:40 AM EST
MONZA, ITALY: Williams Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams looks on in the Team Principals Press Conference during practice for the F1 Grand Prix of Italy at Autodromo di Monza in Monza, Italy. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)

The world of F1, and indeed even motorsport as a whole, was sent into a shock when the Williams family announced that they were parting ways with their team a 40-year association.


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The team was sold off to Dorilton Capital and Claire Williams bid adieu to her father’s legacy after the Italian Grand Prix in September 2020.

The decision must certainly not have been an easy one to make. But why did Claire Williams choose such a drastic step? Let’s find out.


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Williams F1 was in disarray on and off the track

The Grove-based outfit was not what it once was. Claire inherited a struggling team that could scarcely seem to make ends meet, both on and off the grid.

In her debut season as the Deputy Team Principal, her team only managed to bag 5 points. However, there was a brief resurgence under her charge. The next 4 seasons saw the British team finish 3rd consecutively and 5th twice thereafter.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN: Nicholas Latifi of Canada driving the (6) Williams Racing FW43 Mercedes on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Hamad Mohammed – Pool/Getty Images)

But then came the years of toil again. From 2018 to this date, the team managed to win only 8 points! Moreover, their finance took a nasty hit too.

They had lost over $23 million in 2018 and despite significant financial backing from sponsors in 2019, they still lost $18 million. Things took a turn for the worse when the pandemic hit, leaving the historic team in deeper waters.

This played a major role in Claire calling it quits. She revealed, “We have always put our team first. We’ve always done that through the four decades we’ve been racing in this sport. This team has always been in our heart, the very centre of our family.

“We have always put it first, so making that decision was relatively easy in that sense simply because we wanted to make sure the team had a strong future, that it was going to survive, that it was going to go on to great success.”

Claire was mentally exhausted and couldn’t work for someone else

The former deputy team boss had also revealed that despite selling her team, the new owners were keen to keep her on board. However, she declined this offer.

The reason she gave stated, “It was absolutely my decision and I’d like to make that clear. Dorilton asked me to continue. They asked before the sale was done, they asked after the sale was done. But I think a clean break is probably the best for all.


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CIRCUIT DE CATALUNYA, MONTMELO, SPAIN: Williams Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams during day four of F1 Winter Testing. (Photo by Marco Canoniero/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Now that it’s not ours, I don’t feel that I could put the same amount of energy into it. The past few years have been incredibly tough.

“They have taken an awful lot out of me. If I’m honest, I think Dorilton need somebody that has more energy than I’ve currently got.”


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And as a result of that, the last family-owned team in F1 ceased to bear that title. Now under Dorilton’s ownership, Williams F1 is hoping for a new dawn, one that sees them rise to their former glory. Can that ever be achieved again? Only time will tell.


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Ronan Carvalho

1063 articles

Ronan Carvalho is senior F1 author for Essentiallysports. Ronan is currently pursuing his Journalism degree from St. Xavier's College.