The Williams Formula One team have been bought by US-based investment firm Dorilton Capital after being put up for sale in May.
The announcement of the purchase, valued at £136m, comes in the week that all 10 F1 teams signed up to the new Concorde Agreement governing the sport, which has been designed to ensure a more level-playing field in the future.
The team, founded by Sir Frank and Sir Patrick Head in 1977, has remained fiercely independent but poor performance in recent years has now forced it to seek outside investment and formally put itself up for sale in May after disclosing severe financial problems.
Williams dominated F1 through much of the 1980s and 1990s and has won nine championships to Ferrari’s 16. It has also secured seven driver’s titles, including for Damon Hill, son of the British former world champion Graham Hill, in 1996. Hill said yesterday that he felt “strange” reflecting on happier times. Writing on Twitter, he added: “Anyone interested in buying an F1 team should consider that every week you have to pay 600-1,200 people. And that’s just the start.”
Williams’s last driver’s and constructor’s titles were in 1997. The team has finished last in the constructors’ championship for the past two seasons and its poor performance has led to its income plummeting.
A statement from Williams said: “This marks the beginning of an exciting new era in the history of Williams, which with its new owner, is well positioned to capitalise upon the sweeping rule changes coming into Formula One with the new Concorde Agreement.”
Claire Williams, Deputy Team Principal, commented: “The Strategic Review was a useful process to go through and proved that both Formula One and Williams have credibility and value. We have now reached a conclusion and we are delighted that Dorilton are the new owners of the team.
When we started this process, we wanted to find a partner who shared the same passion and values, who recognised the team’s potential and who could unlock its power. In Dorilton we know we have found exactly that. People who understand the sport and what it takes to be successful.
People who respect the team’s legacy and will do everything to ensure it succeeds in the future. As a family we have always put our team first. Making the team successful again and protecting our people has been at the heart of this process from start. This may be the end of an era for Williams as a family owned team, but we know it is in good hands. The sale ensures the team’s survival but most importantly will provide a path to success. We are enormously grateful to Dorilton for the faith they have shown in our team and we look forward to working with them now. I would also like to thank the Williams Board and our advisers who have worked tirelessly over the past months to make this happen and our employees who have remained steadfastly loyal.”
Matthew Savage, Chairman of Dorilton Capital, commented: “We are delighted to have invested in Williams and we are extremely excited by the prospects for the business. We believe we are the ideal partner for the company due to our flexible and patient investment style, which will allow the team to focus on its objective of returning to the front of the grid. We look forward to working with the Williams team in carrying out a detailed review of the business to determine in which areas new investment should be directed. We also recognise the world class facilities at Grove and confirm that there are no plans to relocate.”