LONDON (Reuters) – Claire Williams, Formula One’s only female team boss, will step down after Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix with founder Frank also leaving following last month’s sale to U.S.-based Dorilton Capital.
Claire Williams effectively ran the team, although her 78-year-old father remained official principal despite no longer going to races.
Once-dominant but now last, the British-based former champions have not won a grand prix since 2012 and have yet to score a point in 2020.
They will continue as Williams, with the new management yet to be announced, but the family’s departure marks the end of an era for both team and Formula One after 43 years and 739 grands prix.
“It is with a heavy heart that I am stepping away from my role with the team,” Claire Williams said in a statement.
“I had hoped to continue my tenure long into the future and to preserve the Williams family’s legacy into the next generation.”
Williams, who has a two-year-old son, said she wanted to spend more time with her family and to allow Dorilton to make a fresh start.
“It has not been an easy decision but it’s one I believe to be right for all involved,” she added.
“I have loved every minute and will be forever grateful for the opportunities it has given me. But it’s also an incredibly challenging sport and I now want to see what else the world holds for me.”
Williams has been a champion for gender diversity in F1 and appointed female drivers Susie Wolff — now running the Venturi Formula E team — and W Series champion Jamie Chadwick to development roles.
The new three-man board includes financier and former racer James Matthews, the brother-in-law of Britain’s Prince William.
Williams are the third most successful constructor in F1 history, with 114 wins and 16 titles, but their last championship was with Canadian Jacques Villeneuve in 1997.
Founded in 1977 as Williams Grand Prix Engineering, the team were at their peak in the 1980s and 90s with champions Alan Jones, Keke Rosberg, Nelson Piquet, Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost, Damon Hill and Villeneuve.
“We are incredibly proud of our track record and the legacy we leave behind,” said Claire Williams.
“We have always been in it for the love of it, for the pure pleasure of going motor racing, so this is not a decision that we have taken lightly but after much reflection and as a family.”
Current driver George Russell said Williams had broken the news to him only that day but he was “at ease” with the situation.
Mercedes’ six-times world champion Lewis Hamilton also paid tribute to the family and team.
“I’m a big fan of Sir Frank and his incredible contribution to the sport,” said the Briton, who once considered joining Williams. “He was always so positive to me, he was one of the people I respected most here.
“It’s definitely sad to see the end of the chapter, the end of a book. But I think their legacy will continue.”
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by Toby Davis and Ed Osmond)