…chance doesn't exist; there's always a cause and a reason for everything – Elahi

Archive for the day “March 2, 2012”

Williams: the next generation

Congratulations are due  to Claire Williams (Sir Frank’s daughter) on her new appointment to the Board at WilliamsF1 – and to her new role as Director of Marketing and Communications.  A tough fighter, like her Dad, Claire has in recent years been working on the Media side of the team.  Now, with Dominic Reilly leaving Williams at the end of this month, Claire is taking on the difficult role of sponsorship procurement and management.  She’ll do well, I believe.

Simultaneously, with his 70th birthday coming on April 12, Sir Frank will be stepping down from the Board at WilliamsF1 – but not – many F1 fans will be pleased to hear – as Team Principal.

“It is no secret that Claire is my daughter,” said Sir Frank in his own, inimitable, style today, “but I am proud to say that she has fought hard to earn this appointment and of all the battles she has had to fight, the prejudices of her father were not the least challenging. Dominic Reilly has proven a unique talent in the field of sports marketing and filling the gap he leaves was daunting. But I have come to the view that Claire, with her profound love and knowledge of the sport and the team, can do so and I am proud and delighted that the Board has given her this opportunity. I am equally delighted that Dominic will remain close to the team with his new venture and that we can thank him for his contribution to Williams by supporting him now.

“This is an opportune moment, also, for me to consider my own role in the team. I turn 70 in April and I have decided to signal the next stage in the gradual but inevitable process of handing over the reins to the next generation by stepping down from the Board at the end of this month. This is not as dramatic a move as it may appear: I shall continue to work full-time as Team Principal and I shall continue to attend all Board meetings as observer. I also remain the majority shareholder of Williams Grand Prix Holdings PLC. Nonetheless, I shall be looking to Claire to represent the Williams family on the Board and I know that she will work tirelessly alongside Adam to make the Group and the team just as successful as we can be.”

Jonathan Williams, Claire’s equally-talented brother, continues to work at Williams on driver-management and the huge portfolio of past WilliamsF1 machinery.  He also has close connections with the iSport GP2 team.

Mario Andretti on TFL

It was an absolute joy to chat to Mario Andretti on Wednesday’s edition of The Flying Lap (see link above) – and, for me, one of the best moments came when Mario was describing his return to Ferrari (at Monza, 1982).  We used this beautiful Sutton Image during the show but I wanted to reprint it here because it certainly deserves closer analysis.  It’s taken at the entry to the Parabolica, of course, but what I particularly love about the pose here is the absolute neutrality of Ferrari 126CK2/061 – something that Mario was able to reproduce almost to perfection when his car was right and he could “feel” the surface of the road.  There’s a certain slip angle at the rear but Mario’s subtle use of steering against a decreasing brake pedal pressure has given him exactly the poise he needs mid-corner.  There’s no doubt that Mario used lower minimum corner speeds than, say, Ronnie Peterson (at John Player Team Lotus) or Patrick Tambay (at Ferrari) but for sure he was able to make up for that – and give himself an edge – with his exits.  Earlier in the interview, I was also fascinated to hear Mario talk about how much he learned about driving from Bruce McLaren.  We perhaps tend to think of Bruce these days as one of the ultimate driver-engineers and forget that he was, too, a first-rate racing driver.  It was in slow-corner rotation (an area often taken too much for granted by drivers blessed with great car control) that Mario told us Bruce had been particularly instructive.   In the picture above (taken, I believe, by the great Nigel Snowdon) note, too, that Mario is leaning his Bell helmet slightly to the left.  Peter Revson also used to do this (on both left- and right-handers):  I think it is a characteristic of drivers who have seen plenty of banked corners (ie US ovals) in their time.

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