RACE DEBRIEF

    Williams have made a big statement of intent by appointing long-time McLaren operations chief Simon Roberts in the newly-created role of Managing Director F1.

    The iconic British team say he will “take overall responsibility for the design and development process, racing, factory operations and planning”.

    Roberts, who spent nearly 17 years at McLaren as Operations Director and then Chief Operating Officer, will start work on June 1 and will report to CEO Mike O’Driscoll.

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    “Simon will bring enormous experience and knowledge to the Williams team, and we are delighted that he is joining us when we head back to work after this long enforced F1 shutdown,” said Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams.

    “He will lead a highly talented team that’s looking forward to designing and developing the next generation of Williams F1 cars.”

    Roberts spent a year on secondment at Force India as Chief Operating Officer in 2009 and on returning to McLaren, became a member of their executive team while also taking over responsibility for engineering and factory operations.

    2020 Pre-Season Team Guide - Williams

    Lawrence Barretto [Senior Writer, F1.com] says…

    This is a big statement of intent for Williams.

    Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams and CEO Mike O’Driscoll have been working hard to reorganise and reshape the business, with the team languishing at the back of the field over the past two seasons.

    Staff were promoted from within and good progress was made with the car over the winter, but their leadership structure was on the lighter side, following Chief Technical Officer Paddy Lowe’s departure in early 2019.

    There has been much discussion internally as to whether that role needed to be filled again or if a different approach was needed as they looked to continue their rebuild. Several factors were involved, including who was available and who could be attracted to take on such a huge project with high expectations.

    So the decision was made to create the more emcompassing leadership position of Managing Director, rather than a direct replacement for Lowe, and they believe Roberts is their man. He should provide support to Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams who remains in charge, running the team on a day-to-day basis.

    Williams needed to strengthen their ranks and Roberts brings with him a wealth of experience from McLaren plus a short stint at Force India and is believed to be very well-respected. Time will tell whether this was the right call.