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Motor racing: Williams drivers welcome team sale

(Reuters) - George Russell and Nicholas Latifi welcomed their Williams team’s change of ownership as a positive step that will help the former Formula One champions climb back up the competitive order.

FILE PHOTO: Formula One F1 - 70th Anniversary Grand Prix - Silverstone Circuit, Silverstone, Britain - August 6, 2020 Williams' Nicholas Latifi and Williams' George Russell during a press conference ahead of the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix FIA/Handout via REUTERS

The Grove-based team announced their sale to U.S.-based Dorilton Capital last week, marking the end of an era for the family-owned outfit.

The private investment firm said they would carry out a thorough review to determine where best to direct their investment so as to help the struggling team rediscover past glories.

“It’s secured the future, the stability of the team which is first and foremost the most important thing,” Canadian Latifi, making his Formula One debut this season, told reporters via video conference at the Belgian Grand Prix on Thursday.

“In terms of what changes do I think need to be made, I think that’s more for them to decide. Overall it can only be positive.”

Williams were founded in 1977 and are the third oldest and most successful constructor in Formula One history.

They enjoyed their heyday in the 1980s and 90s but haven’t won a championship since 1997 with Jacques Villeneuve or a race since Pastor Maldonado’s triumph at the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix.

They finished last overall in 2019 and are the only team yet to score points this season.

Their poor form on track combined with the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on their finances.

Dorilton have said they intend to continue with the Williams name.

The management structure of the team, currently run by deputy team principal Claire Williams, daughter of the outfit’s 78-year-old co-founder and team principal Frank Williams, could undergo a change.

“I spoke with Matthew Savage this morning who is the chairman of the company (Dorilton),” said Briton Russell, whose career is backed by Williams’ engine supplier Mercedes.

“At the moment they are in a full review of what changes need to be made (and) who will be forming the management side of the company.”

Reporting by Abhishek Takle, Editing by Ed Osmond

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