Sidepodcast - All for F1 and F1 for all

Williams F1 consider stock flotation for future stability - A new approach to raising funds on the Formula One grid

Published by Christine

Williams  demonstration run, Caracas, Venezuela
Williams demonstration run, Caracas, VenezuelaCredit: Williams F1

Williams F1 have released a statement today confirming that they are investigating the possibility of floating the company on the stock market. There have been no final decisions made, but conversations are taking place between co-owners Frank Williams, Patrick Head and Toto Wolff. If it did come to pass, the move would be in a bid to secure the future of the team, something that has consistently been speculated on for the past few years.

Priding itself as one of the only truly independent F1 teams left on the grid, Williams F1 has seen a downturn in sponsorship of late. Just recently, Pastor Maldonado's trip to Venezuela for a demonstration showed off a startling lack of sponsor detail on the livery, although there is still time before the season begins.

Frank Williams has spoken of his desire to keep the team running in the fashion which he has set it up, namely not to be sold to a big corporate machine. In the statement, he confirmed that stock flotation would be one way of achieving this:

For some years I have been considering how to secure the long-term ownership of Williams such that it will remain true to the aims with which Patrick and I established the team back in 1977.

My goal then was to race in Formula One as an independent Constructor. This was and is my great passion and I will race for as long as I continue to be blessed with good health. It is also my desire that the team is in good shape to go on racing long after I am gone. To that end, it is prudent and necessary to plan for an ownership structure that will enable Williams to be an independent Constructor, owned and staffed by people committed to Formula One and to the sound business practices which have supported us over three decades.

- Frank Williams

A further Q&A with the Chairman of the team, Adam Parr, reveals that the move is not necessarily to do with raising funds, but more a matter of the structure of the team. Public shareholders would share their views with a board of directors, who in turn would have to be in agreement before anything major could be done. As we've seen many times in the past, this can be both a blessing and a curse, but Parr is optimistic it could work, and believes it is better than other options they have looked at.

We have had many approaches in the past, but none have offered the same benefits as this route.

- Adam Parr

He's not particularly forthcoming about what they have looked into, presumably because nothing has been decided yet. Parr is also adamant that Frank Williams is not in deteriorating health, and has no immediate plans to retire. My guess is this statement has been released to stop any possible leaks and rumours that would come from the further investigation of a future flotation.