Williams Grand Prix Engineering has been participating in Formula One as a constructor since 1977, and in all those years the team has always been majority-owned by its founder and principal Sir Frank Williams. That is no longer the case as Friday morning it was announced that American private equity firm Dorilton Capital has purchased the entire company, lock, stock, and barrel.
With nine world constructors championships and seven world drivers’ championships, Williams is one of the most successful teams in F1 history, but times have been tough lately and over the last three decades the cost of fielding a team have ballooned to astronomical levels. Despite having had a handful of woeful seasons in recent years, the Williams name is still a valuable one in the sport.
“We are delighted to have invested in Williams and we are extremely excited by the prospects for the business,” Matthew Savage, chairman of Dorilton Capital, said. “We believe we are the ideal partner for the company due to our flexible and patient investment style, which will allow the team to focus on its objective of returning to the front of the grid.
“We look forward to working with the Williams team in carrying out a detailed review of the business to determine in which areas new investment should be directed. We also recognize the world class facilities at Grove and confirm that there are no plans to relocate.”
The Williams board, including Sir Frank, unanimously agreed to the sale of all assets and liabilities to Dorilton for the seemingly bargain price of $179.5 million. The purchase includes the F1 business, and the minority stake of Williams Advanced Engineering that the company still owns. Considering that is barely over what it costs to run a season of F1 in 2021, once the cost caps kick in, now was a great time for Dorilton to buy in. This move will allegedly secure the long-term survival of the Williams F1 team, which will continue to build its cars in Grove and continue to prefix its chassis names with FW.
I hope that the team finds a way to build a competitive chassis to the new-for-2022 ruleset, and that it will continue to make gains on the rest of the field. This year the team has shown an ability to slightly turn things around, and while it still hasn’t scored any points this year, it has shown points of brilliance. George Russell, in particular, is a bright point of the team, frequently finding his way out of Q1 in Saturday qualifying.
Hopefully now that the team doesn’t have to worry about its financial future for a little while, it can turn things around and focus on getting its ducks in a row. I’d really hate to see this private equity firm saddle Williams with more debts and dismantle the legendary racing team piece by piece. 2020 has been rough enough, so let’s not do that, please. Dorilton, I’m begging you, treat Williams right.