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Formula 1

Head: Williams F1 now has the ‘better leadership’ it needed

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
3 min read

Williams co-founder Patrick Head reckons his old Formula 1 team now has the “better leadership” it has needed after spending a decade “performing quite weakly”.

The long-time family-owned team, which Head helped Frank Williams create, was sold last year to Dorilton Capital.

Shortly after that happened Frank and his daughter Claire Williams stepped aside from the team and relinquished their roles as team principal and deputy team principal.

Dorilton has since invested significantly in the team and appointed ex-Volkswagen Motorsport and McLaren F1 chief Jost Capito as its CEO – with Capito recently also assuming the team principal role that was held by Simon Roberts after the Williams family’s exit.

Williams has been gradually improving its competitiveness since the nadir of 2019 and took advantage of the chaotic Hungarian Grand Prix prior to the 2021 summer break to score its first double points finish in three years and virtually guarantee it will end its run of three consecutive last-placed finishes in the constructors’ championship.

Head said that the fortunate circumstances of Hungary meant Williams still had much to improve to achieve its aims but has backed the new leadership structure to succeed longer-term.

Williams celebration Hungary 2021

“They were obviously assisted by that front end, first corner accident,” he told F1’s official podcast Beyond The Grid.

“So, they’re not really there yet on merit. They’ve got a little bit of a way to go before they’re there.

“But I think the people in place are good, the determination is good. I don’t know very much about the funding myself but I understand that is in place.

“I’d have to say not every year that I was involved were we winners, but we were for the majority, so it’s been a little sad over the last 10 years to see them performing quite weakly.

“I’m very pleased to see them coming back. And I think Jost and the people he brought in – they have some very good people there who have been there for some time, but they need better leadership at the top and I think they’ve got that now.”

Jost Capito

Off-track, Williams has been reshuffling its pack to establish the exact structure Dorilton hopes will restore the team as a more competitive force in F1.

Roberts joined Williams as managing director F1 at the start of last June to “take overall responsibility for the design and development process, racing, factory operations and planning” and then took on team principal responsibilities, initially on a temporary basis before being given the role full-time.

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But his departure earlier this year was considered part of a series of changes aimed at improving the collaboration between the race team and design departments at the factory.

Technical director Francois-Xavier Demaison, a Capito hire after working with him at Volkswagen, assumed overall responsibility for the trackside team in addition to his existing oversight of the various design and development departments.

Williams opted not to recruit a new team principal, with Capito absorbing that status given it is not a standalone role.

Head returned to Williams in a consultancy role during its previous leadership but said he no longer spends “an awful lot of time” following grand prix racing.

“I am in touch with Jost Capito, who I’ve known for some time,” said Head.

“I don’t have any idea that I ring them up and advise them how they should develop the car or anything like that.

“But I am in touch with them.”

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