Claire Williams has become Deputy Team Principal of the Williams F1 team with immediate effect. Williams will retain also be retaining her Commercial Director role and continue to be a part of the Company’s Board of Directors.
Williams started as a press officer for the team in 2002. In 2010 she was promoted to Head of Communications and a year later became Head of Investor Relations.
Frank Williams commented, “Over the past decade Claire has worked tirelessly for Williams. Her knowledge of the sport and passion for the team is unquestionable and I’m proud to say that during her time here she has proven herself to be one of our most valuable assets.
“With Claire being appointed Deputy Team Principal, I know the future of Williams is in extremely safe hands. This appointment also had Ginny’s blessing who I know would have been incredibly proud to have seen Claire taking on this position by my side.”
Commenting on her new role, Claire Williams said; “I’m truly honoured to be taking on the role of Deputy Team Principal and look forward to working alongside Frank to help run the team this season and beyond. I have grown up in the sport and have learnt the ropes from one of Formula One’s legendary Team Principals and as a result I feel well equipped for this new challenge.
“I understand the commitment that every person within the team gives each day to see our car out on the track and I am determined to see us back at the top. I don’t underestimate the challenges that lie ahead but I have the full support of the Board and a very talented Executive Committee who will be invaluable as I move forward in this role.
“It has been a sad month for my family and Williams as a company following the death of my mother, but as the season takes hold we must look to the future. It will be a privilege to play a part in taking the team into what I hope will be a successful next chapter.”
Williams has removed the controversial layout of its ‘Coanda’-effect exhaust from its newly-launched 2013 car.
Despite designer Mike Coughlan believing his layout cleverly exploited a loophole in the rules, the FIA reportedly told the British team its solution was not legal.
“Charlie Whiting was here yesterday,” British broadcaster Sky’s pit reporter Ted Kravitz said on Friday as the Barcelona test concluded.
“(I think) he went to Williams and had a quiet word in their ear that they might want to take that (exhaust solution) off. We don’t expect to see it reappear given the FIA’s stance on that,” he added.
Williams has impressed F1’s eagle-eyed technical experts with an innovation aboard its new FW35.
Although designer Mike Coughlan’s Coanda exhaust solution will have to be removed from the 2013 car, respected German correspondent Michael Schmidt reports on Friday that a clever brake duct solution is fully legal.
The British team probably got the idea from Red Bull, who were ordered by the FIA to remove a similar solution from the title-winning RB8 last year.
The governing body ruled that Red Bull was using the brake ducts as an aerodynamic aid, by channeling airflow through the wheel with the rim, hub and nut all playing a role.
But Auto Motor und Sport’s Schmdit said Williams’ version is legal, crucially because the exit holes for the airflow are stationary, meaning the layout cannot be deemed a banned moveable aerodynamic device.
Williams is not planning to replace Mark Gillan, the chief operations engineer who was credited with helping the team recover its lost form in 2012. Gillan left Williams late last year, but at the time the Grove based team did not say if it intended to recruit from elsewhere to fill the vacancy.
“You have to remember,” said chief designer Mike Coughlan on Tuesday, “there’s a lot of people moving forward in their careers.”
Coughlan had been asked by Britain’s Sky Sports if Williams were now actively on the market to replace figures like Gillan, and the Mercedes-defector Toto Wolff.
“We look at it as one door closing, another door opening,” Coughlan continued, “and a tremendous opportunity for some young people. What you may lose in experience, you certainly make up for in dedication,” he added.
Asked again if Williams is looking to directly replace Gillan or Wolff in the short term, Coughlan insisted: “No, not at all.”
Williams have been told by the FIA that the exhaust solution for their FW35 car is not legal.
It was already believed a similar solution for the Coanda-effect exhaust on Caterham’s 2013 car definitely falls foul of this year’s rules. Williams’ chief designer Mike Coughlan said in Barcelona on Tuesday, where the team’s new Renault-powered car was revealed and tested for the first time, that he was confident the FW35 complied.
In fact, the two solutions were very similar, but the Williams one more cleverly exploited a loophole about aerodynamics-influencing apertures.
The FIA’s Charlie Whiting was at the Circuit de Catalunya on Tuesday, and according to Auto Motor und Sport correspondent Michael Schmidt, “it was rumoured Williams had got the FIA’s blessing” before revealing its solution.
“It may be a technicality,” Mercedes’ Ross Brawn is quoted as saying, “but if you read the rules word for word, Williams is on the safe side.”
But Schmidt reported: “This is not the case.”
Schmidt even quoted Whiting as saying both the Caterham and the Williams solution indeed “violate” the rules.
A Williams spokesperson confirmed: “The team spoke with the FIA this morning, which is when they gave us their view.
“The team are now seeking further clarification on this and a decision as to whether this design will be carried forward will be made before the first race.”
Williams on Tuesday completed the 2013 grid by finally launching its new FW35. Every other team got their cars up and running recently at Jerez, triggering many rumours and whispers about the reason for the Oxfordshire team’s delay.
Technical boss Mike Coughlan insists Williams simply wanted to spend more time developing the new car at the Grove base. And he said the location of the first test was another reason.
“As a test track, Jerez is not very meaningful — you can really only do system or reliability checks. The serious testing starts here in Barcelona,” he is quoted by Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport.
The publication’s correspondent Michael Schmidt said the FW35 is “not a sensation”, but there are some details on the front wing and exhaust “not seen” elsewhere in the 2013 field.
Indeed, he said Coughlan’s Coanda exhaust solution enters “the grey areas of the regulations”.
Caterham has similarly raised eyebrows with its 2013 solution, and Coughlan on Tuesday admitted he is one of those who thinks the green car might not be legal. But he told Auto Motor und Sport his solution for the FW35 “adheres to the rules”.
Pastor Maldonado, who in 2013 enters his third F1 season with Williams, thinks new teammate Valtteri Bottas will get quickly up to speed.
Actually, 23-year-old Finn Bottas is a rookie, and – once the Grove team gets its 2013 car up and running in Barcelona this month – he will have just four days at the wheel before making his grand prix debut in Australia.
But Venezuelan Maldonado said: “Valtteri has been actively involved in the development (of the FW35) and has done a lot of long days in the simulator.
“He is not a complete rookie,” he told the MTV3 broadcaster.
“I believe he will enjoy this season and will be immediately competitive.”
Indeed, one of departed Williams driver Bruno Senna’s complaints was that, despite racing throughout 2012, he usually had to give up his car to Bottas on Friday mornings at grands prix.
Before and after those race weekends last year, reserve driver Bottas was often seen helping the Williams mechanics and truckies set up and dismantle the garage.
The Finn told British Sky television at Jerez: “I promised the guys, even though I am racing now, at least once I will come and help them again.”