Williams F1 team sold to US investment firm

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1williams1The storied Williams Racing Formula 1 squad has been acquired by American private investment firm Dorilton Capital, in a deal that team bosses say will both ensure its survival and “provide a path to success”.

The owners of the Oxfordshire-based team began the search for a buyer as part of a strategic review that began in May. The confirmation of the deal comes shortly after every F1 bosses and all 10 F1 teams, including Williams, agreed a new Concorde Agreement, which lays out how the sport is governed and prize money is distributed.

Founded by Sir Frank Williams, Williams is one of the most successful teams in F1 history, with 114 race wins, nine constructors’ championships and seven drivers’ championships. But it has slipped down the grid in recent years and, as one of the few true independent teams, has struggled against high-spending manufacturer rivals.

The Dorilton deal was unanimously approved by the Williams board.

New York-based Dorilton is a private investment firm founded in 2009 that specialises in long-term investments in ‘lower middle market’ companies. In a statement, it said that it “recognises and appreciates the importance of respecting and retaining Williams’ heritage and culture and is committed to maintaining its identity”.

The deal is well-timed for Williams, ahead of sweeping changes to F1 regulations being introduced, including a new cost cap and revamped technical rules, that should allow smaller teams to be more competitive. In June, Williams bosses outlined exclusively to Automotive Daily’s partner Autocar their recovery plan to return to the front of the grid once investment was secured.

WilliamsF1HeroSpeaking after the Dorilton deal, deputy team principal Claire Williams said: “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. 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.

“As a family, we have always put our team first. Making the team successful again and protecting our people has been at the heart of this process from start. This may be the end of an era for Williams as a family-owned team, but we know it’s in good hands. The sale ensures the team’s survival but most importantly will provide a path to success.”

Dorilton chairman Matthew Savage 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. We also recognise the world class facilities at Grove and confirm that there are no plans to relocate.”

James Attwood

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