Claire Williams says the unexpected decision to put the Williams F1 team up for sale as part of an ambitious plan to drive significant new investment is not because the team can’t survive without an influx of cash, but because the time has come to try an entirely new approach to change its fortunes.

On the back of its worst ever season in F1, a campaign that yielded just a single points’ finish, Williams also finds itself mired in a desperate financial situation having racked up a £13m loss in 2019 alone.

Prompting an immediate review into its finances, Williams subsequently revealed it is opening itself up to offers of a full takeover.

However, while the surprise change in tact was certainly influenced by Williams’ difficulties balancing the books at the moment, Claire Williams insists the move isn’t to stop the team from folding, but instead give it the best chance of returning to the front of the F1 order.

“We started talking about the need for new investment last year before the virus was even on the horizon,” Williams told Autocar. “We decided that if we were ever going to punch our weight again we needed support beyond what we could raise from the F1 prize fund or sponsorship.

“Our overriding desire is to find the best outcome for the team. If that means a full sale, it’s okay. If it means sale of a majority as a path to a full sale, so be it. Or if it means someone wants to come in and work alongside us, that’s fantastic. We could probably scrabble the funds together to keep going, but we’ve been doing that for too long. It’s time for change.”

Though Williams has remained coy over exactly which parties have expressed an interest in a potential deal to date, she says she has been ‘impressed by the quality’ proposed so far.

Among those rumoured to be considering a bid is Michael Latifi, father of new Williams F1 driver Nicholas Latifi and founder of Sofina Foods, whose branding takes pride of place on the new Williams FW43, which was re-designed ahead of the 2020 F1 season following the exit of erstwhile title backer ROKiT.

Though the prospect of a sale to outside investors could open the door for the team to lose both its name and the influence of the founding Williams dynasty, sources claim most interested parties want to retain the historic name and keep the family involved.

 

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