Williams new owners "not hiding"


Since buying Williams at the end of August, other than a visit to witness their investment at the Tuscan Grand Prix the team’s new owners have kept a low profile.

Acting team principal, Simon Roberts reveals that though they are currently "trying to understand everything they can about the business", he warns that they "will only spend money and invest where it makes sense".

Asked why the new owners are keeping such a low profile, Roberts said: Matthew Savage (the Chairman of new owners Dorilton Capital) was in Mugello, and brought one of his other board members and one of his senior chief of staff.

"They weren't doing interviews," he admitted, "but that was their first foray into Formula 1 and I expect we will see them in the future. They are not hiding, so who knows.

"They're just trying to right now understand everything they can about the business," he added. "They're super-smart and really nice and easy people to work with, so it's great having them around. They just come and get involved in everything they can.

"They were in Mugello, which was great for them and we're just in that budget setting, looking at investment plans, trying to figure out effectively what's the first thing to do.

"We don't want to make mistakes but everything we do is focussed on improving our performance in the long term.

"We're working with the new owners pretty much every day, looking at what we need to do to improve. What the long-term programme is and how do we find some performance for the whole team over a long period of time. There's no quick fix here. We're in it for the long haul and so are Dorilton."

Asked if the team will run at the maximum allowed under the cost cap, he initially misunderstood the question.

"We probably won't," he replied. "We are so far into.... Sorry, in 2021? Yeah, our budget is based on getting towards the cost cap," he added.

"This year it's too late. We've only four months to go and we're pretty much set on where we are headed but for next year we are looking at what we can do and we now have the finances behind us to do that.

"But it's not a given," he admitted. "We will only spend money and invest where it makes sense."

With that in mind, asked how capable the team is of taking a step forward in 2022, he said: "We're looking at all of it.. What we don't want to do is give up on 2021.

"It's really important to keep the team alive and active and competing," he continued, "so we're trying to create a short-term plan and, if we could, repeat the step that the team made this year, going from 2019 into 2020. If we can do something like that, then it puts us in a good position for next year.

"What we don't want to do obviously is sacrifice efforts towards 2022 because there's new rules, the new financial regulations will start to bite, so we don't' want to lose that opportunity.

"I don't want to go into any specifics but we're basically looking at all of it and prioritising across a long time frame."

Asked about his own role, the former McLaren Chief Operations Officer, said: "It's something we haven't really focussed on, to be honest.

"The whole sale process happened much faster than any of us expected," he continued, "and then Claire made her decision, which was a shock to all of us.

"So, the most important thing was to retain continuity.

"I'm really, really pleased to be asked to step-up, I really enjoy it and hopefully I can continue to do it for longer - but we haven't even discussed it. It's not the top of my list, and it's not the top of theirs. There's plenty of work to be done and we're all focussed on that and focussed on moving the team forwards."

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Published: 30/09/2020
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