Former Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams has spoken out about some of the abuse she received online prior to her departure from the Grove outfit in September last year.
The Williams family left Formula 1 after the 2020 Italian Grand Prix following the takeover of US-based investment firm Dorilton Capital.
The historic team had experienced a rapid decline over the past few seasons, culminating with three consecutive last-place finishes in the constructors’ championship.
Financial worries and poor aerodynamic performance played a part and Williams admitted that given their spending power compared to the rest of the grid, they were in a “difficult” position.
“The top end of the grid [was] spending half a billion versus our budget of 120 [million],” she told The Spectator’s Women With Balls podcast. “And that’s just not a level playing field from the outset and therefore it’s very difficult to try and compete. When you’re in that situation it’s difficult to claw your way back.
“We also had some other difficulties internally with personnel. We were all fighting these very technical, very complex technical regulations that just kept becoming ever more complex season upon season that we were wrestling with and not getting to grips with at Williams.”
Claire took over day to day operations from her father Frank in March 2013 and oversaw an upturn in the team’s fortunes following the regulation changes in 2014.
However, their performances began to decline and Williams admitted that she faced plenty of abuse as a result.
“We got a lot of support and we retained that support through the early years of our demise,” she added.
“But then I think people started to turn a little bit and particularly, I think, against me. Quite rightly so: I was the leader, I was the boss and the buck stops with me.
“[But] you make decisions at the time because you think that they’re the right decisions and sometimes those decisions don’t go your way and that’s what happened in my case. But of course, I got a lot of a lot of flak for it. I got a lot of scrutiny for it. I’ve got a whole load of abuse, apparently, on social media. But, for me, I couldn’t listen to that noise. That for me would have taken up a huge amount of negative energy and I needed to focus my attention on the team and to prove everybody that I could do it.
“I think I could have done it if I’d have been given some more time and I had the money. But we didn’t have the luxury of a huge title sponsor or a car manufacturer plugging 100 million into the team year on year.”