Column | Are the management changes at Williams a sign of impatience?

11-06-2021 13:15
by Rishi Wig
Column
Column | Are the management changes at Williams a sign of impatience?

Recent news has come out of Williams stating that team principal Simon Roberts will be stepping away from his role as team principal, with CEO Jost Capito absorbing his duties. Could this be a management masterstroke, or will it destabilise the iconic British team?

Recap

Since Dorilton Capital acquired a majority stake in the Williams F1 Team, a swathe of management changes has followed. The Williams family have stepped away from management, with Jost Capito being appointed as CEO and Simon Roberts placed at the helm as temporary team principal. Earlier this year ex Volkswagen rally head engineer Francoise-Xavier Demaison was announced as technical director, the first to fill the role since Paddy Lowe in 2019. Recently, the team announced that Roberts would step away from his duties, with Capito to bear his duties.

Ideally, this will try to bring the branches of the team closer and have a greater focus on car development. Thankfully, there have been no reports of an unhappy split between Roberts & the Williams F1 Team, or of any discontent in the team with the changes.

Aims

It certainly is a clever move. Paring down unnecessary hierarchies to make the teams more adaptable and free-flowing in communication has paid its dividends, with McLaren and Mercedes being firm proof of that. It also ensures that there will be greater expenditure and resource flexibility, as Capito could provide the means for rapid changes, if given reason, within his in-factory position.

This would also bring the technical department closer to the fore, an urgent focus to the team as it was the primary reason for their inability to escape the bottom of the constructor’s standings for the last 3 years. Having Demaison and Capito closely communicating and working together would also be beneficial, as they worked together for Volkswagen for three title-winning years. One should expect that they’d have connections to their previous colleagues and personnel and to bring them to the team if need be.

Risks

Both Capito & Demaison have had a vast amount of experience in multiple motorsport disciplines and would be able to leverage this on the way forward. However, Formula One is an entirely different ballpark, with the technicality level being the highest of any sport in the world. Both need to ensure that quick, but not brash decisions are made to help propel the team up the grid.

Patience is something that won’t be provided either. Dorilton Capital will be hoping to see progress within the future and would want to see the return on their investment. Also, if the team doesn't hit the ground running with the new regulations in 2022 they could face another difficult stint, once more struggling against the clock to grapple with the changes.

A make or break move by Williams. Only time will tell its success.

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