Everything has a price, even the last family-owned team in the Formula 1 paddock.
I have been a fan of the Williams Formula 1 team for 40 years, ever since the Australian driver, Alan Jones, won his, and William's, first Formula 1 Driver's Championship in 1980. For a sports-crazed nation like Australia, we were wrapped to have our first Formula 1 driver's champion since Sir Jack Brabham in 1966.
Williams Racing was started by Frank Williams and Patrick Head in 1977. Their first race entry as a constructor was the 1977 Spanish Grand Prix, and their first win was with Clay Regazzoni at the wheel of the FW07 at the 1979 British Grand Prix. With seven Driver's Championships and nine Constructor's Championships, they have been one of the most successful teams in modern Formula 1 history.
A roll-over car accident 1986 rendered Frank a quadriplegic. From his wheelchair, Frank would return to the team after the accident and guide them through their most successful period, during the late 1980s and 1990s.
Since its inception, Frank and Patrick owned the team. In recent years, the team has fallen on hard times. The costs of Formula 1 racing has become astronomical, and the successful organisations rely on an alliance with a car manufacturer and the deep pockets of sponsors to stay at the top. For a family-owned team like Williams, it gets harder to be a winner, when you want to maintain your independence. In 2018 and 2019, Williams finished last in the Constructor's Championship, a massive fall from grace from the 1990s, when they were the team to beat.
In May, after a massive financial loss and poor performances, Williams Racing was at risk of disappearing from Formula 1, so the team was put up for sale. This month, a US-based capital venture purchased Williams Racing, the whole kit and kaboodle. The time had come for the family to sell up.
The only consolation is that the new owners have said that they will continue to race under the Williams name. Great, I will still be able to don my favourite Williams cap and jacket and cheer on my favourite team.
Let's hope they get to the front again sooner than later.