Williams considers team sale, ROKiT sponsorship terminated

Tanya Simon
June 1, 2020

Williams has announced it is considering selling its struggling Formula 1 team due to financial problems.

No decision has been made but the team, which is majority owned by co-founder Frank Williams, who also serves as team principal, has hired a financial adviser to assist with a review of the business and its potential sale.

The move comes in the wake of Williams finishing last in the constructors' championship for the second year in succession in 2019, leading to a significant drop in income.

"As part of this new strategic direction, the WGPH board is undertaking a review of all the various strategic options available to the Company", said Williams in an official statement. "Whether that be purely a capital investment or a divestment of a minority or majority stake or a full sale of the company, all options at this very early stage in the process are open to us and we aren't ruling anything out".

Williams Grand Prix Holdings (WGPH) published results for 2019 showing Formula One revenue slid to 95.4 million pounds ($117.6 million) in 2019, down from 130.7 million pounds the previous year.

ROKiT originally joined Williams at the start of 2019 with a three year deal until the end of 2021, but then ripped that deal up and put in place a longer five-year contract that had been due to run until the end of 2023.

The British team have won 114 Grand Prix, seven drivers' championships and nine constructors' championships during their existence in F1.

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Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams has said that the 2020 Formula 1 vehicle will feature an updated livery when racing begins - the red of ROKiT set to disappear from the auto.

"He wants to ensure the future success of his team and understands and agrees this is the right time to seek inward investment to achieve that".

At the same time, Williams also announced it has terminated its title sponsorship deal with ROKiT with immediate effect.

"We confirm that we intend to stay in F1", she said yesterday, adding that the introduction of a budget cap from next year was vital to the decision.

Its finances have suffered as a result of poor track performance, with the coronavirus pandemic set to further impact commercial rights income this year.

"I have confidence that we can replace the ROKiT money but we also have existing sponsors that we are very happy with and are being incredibly supportive", she told reporters. - The ROKiT Williams team presented Formula One's "first" Israeli driver in Tel Aviv, with racer Roy Nissany following in his father's footsteps.

"But I'm sure there will still be appetite to sponsor in our sport, a sport that is undergoing huge change for the good".

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