Claire Williams says that a potential sale of Williams Grand Prix Holdings (WGPH) is motivated by a desire to secure its future and put its people first.
WGPH, the company whose operations include the Williams Racing Formula 1 team, made the announcement of a formal sale process in conjunction with the release of its 2019 financial results on Friday morning (local time).
The company recorded a loss (EBITDA) of GBP 13.0 million (AUD 24.1 million) for the year ended December 31, 2019 compared to profit of GBP 12.9 million (AUD 23.9 million) in the corresponding prior period.
The swing was largely due to the F1 team moving from profit to loss, with Williams Advanced Engineering’s profit rising (excluding profit from the majority stake sold in that business at the end of the year), and losses from ‘Other’ activities increasing by GBP 2.2 million (AUD 4.1 million).
A sale of WGPH, either in full or in part, is not a fait accompli, and other capital raising is also being considered.
While a sale would appear to fly in the face of the stance taken by founder Sir Frank Williams, Claire Williams reasoned that it was necessary to protect the team.
“This is not about the Williams family, and putting Williams up for sale,” she said.
“This is about trying to secure the future of our team.”
Claire Williams claimed that her father is “up to speed” and supportive of the decision, and that it is consistent with his attitude.
“What Frank has always done is to ensure that he puts the team, the business and our people first, and that’s what we’re doing now,” she declared.
“Equally, Frank always wants to be as competitive as possible.
“One of the main reasons that we’re doing this is to attract inward investment into the team, in order that we can firstly capitalise on the new regulations that are coming forward in 2021 and put this team in the best possible position to be successful.
“At the end of the day, that’s all that matters to us.”
Williams also stated that the team would see out the 2020 season, but would prefer to complete the process inside four months.
“We haven’t put a timeframe on this process, but we want to complete it within the next three to four months,” she explained.
“We like to do things fast in F1, don’t we? And we feel that we can achieve it in that timeframe.
“But, we are fully funded throughout the remainder of this year to continue racing as and when we can go back to the circuit.”
She claimed earlier this month that F1 could “lose an awful lot of teams” if racing did not take place this year, although the Austrian Grand Prix appears set to go ahead on July 5 as the new season-opener.