Sir Frank Williams: If I wasn’t still a fan I wouldn’t be here
Williams have endured a tough time in the last few years
After a relatively tough few years in Formula 1, Williams have started 2012 in tremendous fashion with their first victory in the sport since way back in 2004. Since the glory days of the mid-90s, Williams F1 have gradually declined from World Championship contenders on a yearly basis to a team struggling amongst the midfield.
However, Williams co-founder and team principal Sir Frank Williams has remained glued to the sport which he so dearly loves. With Williams suffering a dismal seven years in Formula 1, Pastor Maldonado’s victory at this years Spanish Grand Prix brought smiles to many within the paddock. In the unpredictable world which is the 2012 season, Williams have already scored 45 points in comparison to 5 from the whole of last season.
During Williams’ dominant era through the 1990s, the Grove-based outfit had the ability to have many drivers striving for the opportunity to race for the legendary team. Drivers such as Alain Prost, Nigel Mansell, Ayrton Senna, Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve all raced for Williams throughout the 1990s, with many race victories and Drivers’ Championships coming in abundance for good measure. However, lately Sir Frank Williams has been accused of signing pay drivers, something which the 70-year-old disbelieves greatly.
“People who accused me of that are in the wrong business themselves.” Said Sir Frank Williams in an interview with Formula1.com. “They take money from what they do. Journalists are that way, aren’t they? In the old days the price of running in Formula 1 was probably one tenth or at most 15 percent of what it is now. It is very expensive to be in Formula 1. And it might happen that you take on a driver who brings along some money. There is no shame in that whatsoever.”
Whether or not Sir Frank Williams signed Pastor Maldonado due to his huge sponsorship from Venezuelan state-owned petroleum company PDVSA, the former GP2 Champion has undeniably showed his worth to the Williams outfit. After a relatively mundane debut season last year, the Venezuelan driver has already taken his maiden victory in 2012. Sir Frank Williams believes the change of fortune for Williams has a lot to do with Adam Parr, who left the team in March.
“Adam Parr - to his credit - played a significant role in his all too short time with the team.” Explained Sir Frank Williams, “I am very sad that he left as he is a terribly clever man who took on two or three key people, like Mike Coughlan for instance, and some key people in engineering, and that makes all the difference.”
With Formula 1 set to introduce some stark changes to the regulations in years to come, including the possibility of yet more additions to the already bulging calendar, Sir Frank Williams amazingly seems unbothered with the future of the sport. He believes that with Bernie Ecclestone at the helm, all should remain fine.
“I am not one of these people who sit back and dream about what Formula 1 should be.” Continued the 70-year-old, “We have Bernie to do that, God bless him. I hope it will be the same speed, the same noise - and so far I see that model going on. I love speed, I love noise, I love competition and if I wasn’t still a fan I wouldn’t be here.”
With Sir Frank Williams blatantly still in love with the sport 33 years after Clay Regazzoni won his teams first ever Grand Prix at Silverstone in 1979, it seems as though the Williams name will remain strong in Formula 1 for years to come. With Pastor Maldonado and Bruno Senna currently carrying the hopes and dreams of the Grove-based team, the 2012 season will always be one to remember for Williams F1.
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