Sir Frank Williams has moved to stress that he has no intention of selling his eponymous Formula 1 team 'in the next few years', even though the top flight is now being dominated by big-budget, manufacturer-backed outfits.
Williams – originally called Williams Grand Prix Engineering Ltd – has been in existence since 1977, and over the intervening 31 years has achieved a tremendous amount of success in F1, securing 16 world championship crowns (seven drivers' and nine constructors), 113 race victories, 125 pole positions and 128 fastest laps from 510 starts.
Though last year the Grove-based concern finished fourth in the title chase, it has in recent campaigns struggled to match the resources and development pace of the manufacturer-led squads, for whom money would quite literally appear to be no object. Williams has not triumphed in a grand prix since Juan-Pablo Montoya prevailed at Interlagos in Brazil in the final outing of 2004.
Having raced to the bottom step of the podium in the 2008 season curtain-raiser Down Under in Melbourne, Nico Rosberg and team-mate Kazuki Nakajima now find themselves struggling even to break out of Q1 in qualifying, but Sir Frank – one of the last true remaining privateers on the grand prix grid – is adamant that relinquishing the reins is the last thing on his mind.
“In the next few years we will not sell,” he told sport.net
, in spite of contemporary and McLaren team principal Ron Dennis having effectively sold out to engine suppliers Mercedes-Benz and Bahraini investors, and Williams itself said to be forging a burgeoning relationship with Icelandic investment group Baugur. “We would sell no more than shares; the name Williams is staying in Formula 1.”
The 66-year-old did acknowledge, however, that he and team co-founder and engineering director Patrick Head are 'not getting younger', whilst ruling out the possibility of his son Jonathan – currently involved in the feeder GP2 Series – taking over, reasoning that Williams Jnr is 'too nice for Formula 1'.