Williams drivers hail ‘very positive’ buy-out as they insist team DNA will remain
The purchase of Williams by US investment firm Dorilton Capital last week was a seismic event in Formula 1’s history. But both Williams drivers Nicholas Latifi and George Russell have welcomed the move, while insisting that the ethos of the historic team will remain the same.
It was announced on the Friday after the Spanish Grand Prix that the team started by Sir Frank Williams and Sir Patrick Head in 1977 would be purchased by Dorilton Capital, in a landmark move described by Williams as “the beginning of an exciting new era in [our] history”, after several years of financial uncertainty.
And speaking ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix, George Russell was asked about his feelings over the buy-out of the team he joined back in 2019.
“Obviously very positive news for Williams as a whole and everybody who works for the team and for both of us as drivers,” said Russell. “It was a slightly nervy time previously, and I’m very pleased to see that the company and the team is stable moving forward and has got a great company behind to help push Williams back to where they belong, which is definitely higher up the grid.”
“A very positive step for Williams,” echoed Latifi, before being asked about whether he thought the ethos of Williams would remain. “The DNA of the team, obviously it's a family-run team and I'm sure that side of things will not change, which is part of what makes Williams, Williams.
“Since I've been with the team, I've really been enjoying that side of things, the team environment, and the culture that's been cultivated here over so many years. So I would hope that that would stay.”
“The Williams family have been a huge part of Formula 1,” added Russell. “I think the most important thing with this change of ownership is the name and that side of things will be continuing, which I think is very important. Obviously the Williams family would not have sold to somebody who they didn't believe would be beneficial for the team moving forward… The culture will not be changing from a historic side, and keeping the name of the team is very important as well for us drivers and the people back at base.”
One of the main tasks for Dorilton Capital now is to put in place the investment that will allow Williams a strong build-up to the 2022 season, which will see Formula 1’s rules revolutionised to allow closer, more competitive racing.
And while Russell admitted that the time-frame between now and the start of 2022 may be too narrow for Williams to turn the ship around – with the team having now taken just one point since the 2018 Singapore Grand Prix – both he and Latifi were hopeful that the new rules, coupled with the team’s fresh investment, would allow Williams to compete in the near future.
“Formula 1 is an incredibly complex sport and… historically things don't change drastically very, very quickly,” said Russell. “I think 2022 is a great new opportunity for all the teams to start from a new basis… I don't know exactly what the plans are moving forward, but definitely 2022 I’m sure is a big part of [Dorilton’s] goal to focus on.”
“2022 is definitely going to be a very exciting year for the sport,” added Latifi, “and definitely an opportunity for Williams as a team to hopefully capitalise on that and get closer to the rest of the pack.”