On the eve of the race that delivered his eponymously-named team its breakthrough grand prix victory at Silverstone all the way back in 1979, Sir Frank Williams has officially announced that he is to step down from the role of chairman of Williams F1 – whilst the Grove-based squad confirmed that it will prolong its engine-supply deal with Cosworth into 2011.
Though he will remain team principal and as such retains final say on key matters, Williams will hand over the day-to-day running of the ultra-successful operation to Adam Parr, who has hitherto fulfilled the role of chief executive – and acting chairman since the beginning of the F1 2010 campaign. Team co-founder Patrick Head's position of director of engineering is unaffected, whilst Alex Burns replaces Parr as CEO.
“This is absolutely not notice of my impending retirement,” Williams told BBC Sport
. “Time is evolving. There are a few more years in me yet, and in Patrick, but it is better to do it early. I love F1, I have a strong involvement in the company and I will continue to go to work every day, but it must be as apparent to you as it is to me that Adam is the right person to run this company.”
“I have asked Adam to step up to chairman in my place to give him both the responsibility and authority to ensure the good running of all aspects of the team and the company,” he added in a team statement. “Adam has a very strong education and a good career in the management of British companies.
“He has taken the lead in putting the team on a stronger financial footing, developing new businesses and building our social responsibility programme. These initiatives have seen us partnering with such outstanding organisations as Porsche and Cambridge University Press respectively in hybrid technology and education. We clearly hope the company has a very strong future. It's my job and Patrick's job to ensure Williams is a properly-run company that will be successful in F1.”
The 68-year-old will also remain the majority shareholder in the team that bears his name, along with Head and Austrian private equity investor Toto Wolff, who bought into the Oxfordshire concern with a minority stake last year, ending Williams' and Head's three decade-long exclusive dual ownership. He added that whilst he is 'not actively looking' at selling the independent outfit to an outside party, nor would he discount the possibility.
“It is both a great honour and a big responsibility to take over Frank's role as chairman,” acknowledged Parr, who joined Williams in 2006 after qualifying as a barrister and working as an investment banker for Barclays and for prominent mining company Rio Tinto.
“Frank remains our controlling shareholder and team principal, and he will always be the name, the face and the inspiration of this team. My aspiration is to ensure the team and the company are run to the high standards that Frank and Patrick Head have always demanded both on and off the track. I am fortunate to count on dedicated partners, a strong board and above all a great team of dedicated and talented people at Grove.”
Williams used the opportunity, moreover, to reveal that the team is 'very happy' to extend its relationship with Cosworth into a second season in 2011, though he conceded that the long-term objective is to renew the kind of successful partnership with a major manufacturer such as the Renault and Honda eras that delivered no fewer than twelve of its 16 world championship crowns in the top flight between 1986 and 1997.
The squad presently sits seventh in the constructors' title standings on 20 points, and had been linked with a return to Renault power next year prior to today's announcement to the contrary.