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Exclusive Q&A with Frank Williams 26 Jul 2006

Frank Williams (GBR) Williams Team Owner.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Spanish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Barcelona, Spain, 12 May 2006

Frank Williams is renowned for his no-nonsense approach, so it’s no surprise that when it comes to the performance of his team this season he freely admits that they have been stuck in reverse. But he also knows from experience that Formula One racing is a cyclical business, hence his focus on seasons ahead, with new regulations set to narrow the gap between private and manufacturer teams. He also sees the future in driver Nico Rosberg, who makes his home debut at Hockenheim this weekend…

Q: Almost two-thirds of the 2006 season gone and the five private teams hold the last five positions in the constructors’ championship. Of those teams, only Williams have seen both sides of the fence - you know what it’s like to win. How do you see the situation of the private teams, especially Williams?
Frank Williams:
We are very disappointed with our season to date. We have gone backwards, not forwards. It is not for lack of effort. We are trying to discover the basic route of our problems and, once we understand our car more thoroughly, we will move forward more swiftly.

Q: How will the mooted ‘part engine freeze agreement’ influence the situation of those teams? A possible cost reduction for pay-engines?
We are talking to an existing manufacturer so the proposed FIA fund for an alternative engine supplier is probably not relevant to us.

Q: Cost cutting has been the talk of the paddock for years, with apparently mixed results. Some suggest the manufacturers are getting weary of spending more money on their Formula One teams whilst the private teams are simply unable to pay out more. Do you see a way out of this dilemma?
Supposition always plays a great role in people’s perception. I think you will find that people have been usefully saving money and I suspect we are not unique in the paddock in this regard. I would suggest that the FIA’s new rules will provoke greater savings.

Q: The financial demands of running a competitive Formula One team have supposedly skyrocketed in the last five years whilst the marketing budgets of many companies willing to sponsor teams have reportedly decreased. Is it becoming more difficult to lure lucrative sponsors to private teams? Do you believe there’s a need for a new business model?
I disagree to some extent with this remark. While some manufacturer’s costs have risen, it is because they have been given authority by their boards to spend the money in order to win. What has to be noted is that all these manufacturers have brought into F1 many more world class companies to join their teams as sponsors and the whole business of Formula One has benefited accordingly. You just have to look at the new names that have come in recently, such as Dell and Intel - that wouldn’t have happened if they weren’t associated with a manufacturer team.

Q: If private teams are reliant on manufacturer teams for engines, is there a risk of them receiving second best in terms of quality?
The new engine homologation provides for all engines to be exactly the same.

Q: Reports say Williams will race with a Toyota engine next year. You have said that the price agreed for engines depends on what the second team could do for the supplier. What is Williams supposed to do for Toyota?
You will have to wait and see.

Q: Williams technical director Sam Michael was quoted as saying there will be a restructuring of the team. What key areas need to be changed?
Sam actually said that there would be a re-group. He did not mean that we would restructure the team, but that we would look into how we operate in car design and engineering.

Q: How satisfied have you been with this year’s driver line-up - especially with your rookie Nico Rosberg?
Very much so. We think he is extraordinarily talented and articulate. He is doing very well, thank you.

Q: Will you be staying with the same line-up next year? Don’t both Rosberg’s and Mark Webber’s contracts end this season…
I wasn’t aware that Nico’s contract ends at the end of the season. Mark’s contract does terminate and is currently under discussion.