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The only way is up - exclusive Claire Williams Q&A 15 Nov 2013

Claire Williams (GBR) Williams Deputy Team Principal.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Practice, Friday, 25 October 2013 Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams FW35.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, United States Grand Prix, Practice, Austin, Texas, USA, Friday, 15 November 2013 Claire Williams (GBR) Williams Deputy Team Principal.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Practice, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday, 1 November 2013 Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams FW35.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Qualifying, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Saturday, 2 November 2013 Frank Williams (GBR) Williams Team Owner, Claire Williams (GBR) Williams Deputy Team Principal and the Williams Team celebrate 600 race starts for Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd9, German Grand Prix, Qualifying, Nurburgring, Germany, Saturday, 6 July 2013 Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams FW35.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Preparations, Friday, 25 October 2013 Claire Williams (GBR) Williams Deputy Team Principal.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, British Grand Prix, Race Day, Silverstone, England, Sunday, 30 June 2013 Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, United States Grand Prix, Preparations, Austin, Texas, USA, Thursday, 14 November 2013 Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams FW35.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, United States Grand Prix, Practice, Austin, Texas, USA, Friday, 15 November 2013 Claire Williams (GBR) Williams Deputy Team Principal and Frank Williams (GBR) Williams Team Owner.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 19 April 2013 Pat Symonds Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Qualifying, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Saturday, 2 November 2013 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F138.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, United States Grand Prix, Practice, Austin, Texas, USA, Friday, 15 November 2013 Claire Williams (GBR) Williams Deputy Team Principal in the Press Conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd13, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday, 20 September 2013

Williams have scored just a single point so far in 2013. It thus goes without saying that Claire Williams' first season as deputy to team principal and father Frank has not been an easy one. However, having just signed one of the most successful and experienced drivers on the grid to help cope with 2014's dramatic rule changes, she is convinced the future is bright for the legendary British squad...

Q: Claire, Williams have announced a 2014 driver line-up that reads Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas. Can you explain the thinking behind that pairing?
Claire Williams:
Well, Pastor (Maldonado) came out to the press saying that he wanted a change and we respected that, so we had to find an alternative for our 2014 driver line-up. Coincidently Felipe had come on the market, as Ferrari will put Kimi (Raikkonen) in the car next year, so we've worked hard behind the scenes to secure his services for next year. We are delighted and very much looking forward having Felipe in our driver line-up. That is really very positive news.

Q: What do you expect Felipe to contribute? A bag full of Ferrari secrets?
CW:
No, that's not why we've asked him to join us. Felipe has raced in Formula One for 12 years now and has a proven track record of being very talented and quick in the cockpit - and he has that experience which we know will help drive this team forward. Where we are now with the team, we really need that. So yes, his experience played a huge part in the decision, and also the fact that he can win races, that he knows how to win races. Valtteri is obviously a rookie in the team and for him to have somebody to benchmark himself against is fantastic. We wanted somebody who can come into the team and build and drive the team forward and we fully believe that Felipe is the best person to do that. His attitude to Formula One is so impressive. He wants to have a new challenge for himself. He looks at Williams and sees a real challenge there and everybody knows that we have a challenge ahead of us and to have him on board to drive that change and performance is what we are looking for.

Q: Those 12 years' experience Felipe has in Formula One racing are impressive, but aren't you afraid that he has already used up the best part of his talents?
CW:
No, you improve with age. I do believe that. I think he still has a number of years ahead of him, so I completely disagree with that. I think when you have had a number of seasons' experience in the sport you can only get better, that you have an amount of experience under your belt that rookies or young drivers don't necessarily bring. And we really need that experience. He's still a young guy but with a huge amount of experience - and we needed that combination for next year.

Q: Your first season as deputy team principal is almost over. What conclusions do you draw from 2013?
CW:
Is it really almost the end of the season? It really feels like I'm new in the job - but I suppose I am. This is a long-term plan for me and it is only the beginning. It was a challenging year - and life would be boring if you were just presented with success! (laughs) I knew what I was walking into - maybe hoping for not quite as poor a season as we've had, but I think that the path that we've taken the team to this year, the work that has been going on behind the scenes, is the kind of platform to springboard into the future. But of course there is still work to be done.

Q: It has been the worst season for Williams for a very long time. Wouldn't you have liked to have started your 'career' with a good season?
CW:
Well, it is really difficult to change something massively if the car is coming out not so good as you can't make any fundamental changes once the season is on, so we've tried to make changes in order to prepare the team for next year. So yes, it would have been nice - more for the team than for me - if we had had a better year than we did. But that's Formula One. I think it was a real eye opener for everybody in the team - and it has actually made us sit up and go right and address our problems. And that's what we've done. So we have to think more of what we've achieved in terms of changes for next year rather than lament that 2013 has been an awful year.

Q: Under normal circumstances a season like this would put immense pressure on the relationship between team principal and deputy team principal. How is it in your case?
CW:
I do feel the pressure. But I came in at the start of the season when work had already been done, so I didn't walk around thinking what could I have done differently. I am building for the future and not for the past. I don't put too much unnecessary pressure or worry on me. I am looking ahead, I'm rebuilding for the future and don't allow retrospective thought.

Q: How is Frank seeing that? Isn't it moving too slowly for him?
CW:
I think he understands that if you come into a new season it is almost impossible to make a dramatic change to a car.

Q: Pastor gone means that his sponsorship is gone too. That surely means the loss of significant revenues for the team. How do you absorb that?
CW:
I can't discuss any contractual terms or financial terms, but all I can say is that we are a part publicly listed company so we have to ensure that this team is financially stable. We have the budget that we need to go racing next year so we are fine for next season.

Q: While some other teams have risen up the order over the course of the year, Williams have stuck near the back of the grid. Did you abandon 2013 at an early stage to focus on 2014, not wanting to throw good money after bad results?
CW:
No. The nature of our team demands that we keep on going and were trying to breathe performance into the 2013 car. We can't just stop. We've tried to solve our problems - and we did drive a little bit of performance into this year's car from where we've been in Australia. We knew that it was meaning a lot of work.

Q: How much of the car that is running now already holds concepts for the 2014 car? So that the money was not completely lost...
CW:
Yes, we've started to do that. We started in Singapore. But I think that happened up and down the paddock. We didn't do it earlier - we tried to bring upgrades to improve this year's car. But of course back at the factory, there the focus is of course on 2014. We're very lucky to have a lot of resources, so the development that we've kept on doing with this year's car hasn't done too much harm to the development of next year's car.

Q: Your main working area is to look after the finances of the team. Is it becoming increasingly more difficult to attract companies to join a team?
CW:
It's become really difficult, for a variety of reasons, like the economic crises that hit in 2009. But sponsors do come into this sport. It is an amazing spectacle. Of course if a team is not doing too well that compromises the partnerships that you may be bringing on board, but at Williams we are lucky as well in the sense that we have a fantastic heritage and we have a wonderfully recognizable brand name in our team name Williams. So we have a lot to sell. And people see the changes that are going on at Williams and that it is a great chance to join.

Q: What is your stance on a budget cap? Would that make sense from the Williams point of view?
CW:
Well, in order for Formula One to be competitive you need a certain level playing field for people, but I do believe that it is up to teams to generate their income. But of course with the general global economic climate we have to be sensible about that - but equally this sport is so competitive that the way to win is inevitably to spend money. We have to have conversations about it and I hope that the new strategy group that we have will help to move that forward.

Q: Not so long ago Frank was not so enthusiastic about a budget cap, as he didn't want anybody knocking at his door and snooping around internal Williams affairs in order to control how he spends his money...
CW:
Well, I think you have to be relevant to the time. And it all depends on how much money we are talking about. When the spending escalates again because manufacturers spend half a billion pounds in this sport every year and we brought them down to a reasonable amount of money, the danger is that they might fall into the old habit again - and I think we need to prevent that.

Q: What has been the best moment of your 'rookie season' as deputy team principal?
CW:
Bringing Felipe on board. That was kind of my proudest moment. To bring a driver of his calibre to this team when we haven't delivered the performance - I am very pleased with that. But also bringing Pat Symonds on board and hopefully being able to announce new sponsors soon.

Q: Did you negotiate the Felipe deal?
CW:
Yes, but we've also done it as a group.

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