It’s the dawn of a new for Williams after the announcement that its Formula 1 team has been sold to American private investment firm Dorilton Capital, but what exactly does it mean for the future of the British squad?

Ultimately, Williams has protected the future of its F1 team with Friday's announcement after confirming back in May that it was considering either a partial or full scale sale of the F1 squad in a bid to ease financial pressures amid the coronavirus pandemic and a downturn in revenues induced by its slump to the bottom of the constructors’ championship.

With the F1 team now successfully safeguarded, we consider some of the biggest question marks posed by the sale…

Who exactly are Dorilton Capital?

Dorilton Capital is a New York-based private investment firm that has involvement in a number of sectors, including healthcare, engineering and manufacturing.

According to its website, Dorilton states that it focuses its investment on three main principles: Patience, Partnership and Continuity.

Dorilton says it seeks to “acquire, recapitalise, and support the long-term growth of middle market businesses across a range of industry sectors” to create value over the long-term. Since its inception, Dorilton Capital has completed over 50 transactions.

Speaking about the acquisition of Williams, Matthew Savage, the Chairman of Dorilton Capital, said: "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."

Will the Williams name disappear from F1?

No. Williams is one of F1’s most famous names having been present on the grid since it entered the world championship in 1977 when it was founded by Sir Frank Williams - who has remained team principal ever since - and Sir Patrick Head.

F1 fans will be pleased to hear that Williams will retain its identity and name after the announcement confirmed there are no plans to change the name of the team or the chassis, with the new owner recognising “the importance of respecting and retaining Williams’ heritage”.

There are also no plans for the iconic British constructor to relocate from its current operating base at Grove in Oxfordshire.

"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,” deputy team principal Claire Williams said.

"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.

"This may be the end of an era for Williams as a family owned team, but we know it is in good hands.”

Will there be full-scale changes?

Williams said in May it was embarking on a “new strategic direction”, following on from a previous review process that led to a restructure of its technical department in response to its recent on-track struggles.

After hitting “rock-bottom” by slipping to the bottom of the constructors’ championship in 2019, Paddy Lowe headlined a flurry of big-name departures from the team as part of a technical reshuffle.

Williams moved to bolster its technical team ahead of 2020 with the signings of David Worner as chief designer from Red Bull and Jonathan Carter as deputy chief designer and head of design from Renault.

Further changes may follow, although that will be swayed by how Dorilton Capital determines which areas should be prioritised for new investment to be directed into.

Sir Frank Williams and Claire Williams are expected to continue in their respective roles as team and deputy team principal.

Long-term security, or a flash in the pan?

On the face of it, the deal appears to be a long-term investment, unlike Williams’ previous partner ROKiT Telecommunications, a collaboration which lasted just a year before the sponsorship was terminated.

Dorilton's website indicates that it prefers "to partner with incumbent management to create value over the long term”.

“We work actively with existing management teams recognising that long-term business success is the result of a team effort,” it continues. 

“Dorilton views its role as providing additional capital for acquisitions and growth projects and support and expertise to take its companies to the next level.”

In the current circumstances, Dorilton appears to be the best choice to align with Williams’ own aims of returning to competitiveness.

“The sale ensures the team’s survival but most importantly will provide a path to success,” Williams explained.

“We are enormously grateful to Dorilton for the faith they have shown in our team and we look forward to working with them now.”

Will sale help Williams return to winning ways?

Williams have won seven drivers’ world championships and nine constructors’ titles since 1977 but its last success came in 1997. 

It has also taken just one race victory in the last 16 years, which came thanks to Pastor Maldonado’s stunning win in the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix.

After seeing its competitiveness slowly dip following an initial resurgence at the start of the V6 hybrid era, Williams now finds itself anchored to the bottom of the constructors’ championship, having scored just one point in the last 12 months.

But the Grove-based outfit views the sweeping rule changes coming into effect in F1 with the new Concorde Agreement for 2021, coupled with finding new owners, as the “beginning of an exciting new era in the history of Williams”.

It already boasts a strong driver line-up with the highly-rated George Russell spearheading Williams’ recovery effort alongside Canadian rookie Nicholas Latifi, and the British squad has some solid foundations in place and appears well-placed to capitalise on the major changes on the horizon.

Only time will tell whether Dorilton can help Williams “unlock its power”.

 

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