Claire Williams has spoken candidly to Sky Sports F1 about her reasons for stepping away from the team and Formula 1 – admitting she would have likely found staying into its new era under different owners “enormously difficult”.
In her only sit-down interview on the family’s final race in the sport after 44 years of team ownership, Williams revealed that while she was twice asked to stay on by the new owners, Dorilton Capital, she did not feel she was the right person to lead it into its new era.
Williams family announce F1 departure after team sale
“It was absolutely my decision and I’d like to make that really clear,” she said to David Croft at Monza ahead of the Italian GP.
“I’ve obviously known that this has been coming. I’ve been working on the strategic review since March and obviously lockdown as well afforded me the opportunity to think about my life and what I wanted and about the outcome of this process and what the eventualities could be and could mean.
🗣"This is a hard hard business, I've given it my all."
Don't miss our exclusive sit down with Claire Williams during our build-up to the #ItalianGP this weekend on Sky F1.#SkyF1 | #F1 pic.twitter.com/49ZS99jqM1
“I took a long time to think about what it would feel like to have new owners, if we did fully sell Williams, and what that would feel like for me.
“I love this team, I’ve always loved this team, and I want to see it do well. But I think anyone, I hope, could understand that for me working for somebody else would be potentially enormously difficult. I’ve run this team as my team as seven years.
“You put blood, sweat and tears into something like I have for the time that I have, made the sacrifices doing what I’ve done. This is a hard, hard business. I’ve given it my all and I’ve done that because I’ve wanted to protect my family’s legacy in this sport. I’ve done it because I’m my dad’s daughter and I felt it was my duty to do it, so to speak.
“Now that it’s not ours I don’t feel that I could put the same amount of energy into it. The past few years have been incredibly tough. They have taken an awful lot out of me and, if I’m honest, I think that probably Dorilton need somebody that has more energy than I’ve currently got, somebody that is going to put in more than I can currently give it to take it forward.
“They’re going to put as much as they can into it and they’re going to want somebody that can take that and really drive it forward. I don’t think I am that person.”
Williams: It’s a bit like ripping a plaster off
Although her father has continued to hold the title of team principal, Claire has been the de facto boss since 2013 – and is currently the only female holding that role in F1.
Williams twice finished third in the standings under her tenure, in 2014-15, but have slipped to the tail of the grid since then with budgetary challenges as an independent team under the current Concorde Agreement compounded earlier this year by the coronavirus and the loss of their title sponsor.
“I’ve always been very honest about my capabilities in this sport and I always thought I would know when the time would be right for me to hang up my boots, so to speak, and that does feel like now,” she added.
“Dorilton asked me to continue. They asked before the sale was done, they asked after the sale was done, but I think a clean break is probably best for all around.
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