Formula 1 team Williams starts a new age after it has been acquired by an American investment firm Dorilton Capital.
The historic British constructor was founded by Sir Frank Williams and Sir Patrick Head and back in May this year, they declared taking a “new strategic direction” with the team. In other words, COVID-19 had been the final nail in the coffin of the last independent Formula 1 team on the grid.
Three months after they started the process of finding new shareholders, whether this was a partial or a controlling stake, they finally announced last weekend that Dorilton Capital would be the new major stakeholder in the team.
With this new lease of capital flowing into the team, the official ‘blurb’ claims that the team can finally “capitalise upon the sweeping rule changes coming into Formula 1 with the new Concorde Agreement.”
According to Claire Williams, deputy team principal, the new investment team recognises and appreciates Williams’ heritage and culture and will maintain the brand’s identity. Further, Claire Williams claims that Dorilton were “People who understand the sport”, which on the face of it seems a strange and unlikely thing to say about what is a unrelated business with zero background in motorsport or F1.
This is perhaps a hint of what and who is actually behind the cash coming into Williams?
The share deal will mean that the team will keep the Williams brand name for the competitions and racing, and the ‘FW’ chassis naming convention will also stay unchanged.
The investment team does not plan to move the Williams team from Grove in the UK and the board, including Sir Frank Williams, officially supports the acquisition.
On the day of the announcement, Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams said that the strategic review was a useful process that proved that Formula 1 and Williams have credibility and value going forward, and the team is delighted that Dorilton is the new owner.
So why has Williams had to do the unthinkable and sell off their team? Something Sir Frank Williams had stornchly refused to do several occasions over the teams’ long history.
Certainly the COVID-19 pandemic did not help, and perhaps sped up the demise. It is fair to say that the pandemic has affected all industries, Formula 1 is no different.
It became clear, even to Sir Frank, that the business could not survive the pandemic as a going concern without sigificant investment. So who are Dorilton?
Dorilton is a capital management LLC based in Manhattan, New York and the purchase of the Williams shares were done via a subsidiary called BCE Limited, a UK company with an interesting name.
Dorilton was set up by two ex-Rothschild bankers, Mathew Savage, the Chairman, and Darren Fultz, the CEO) back in 2009. BCE Limited is a rather more ‘shady’ enterprise, of which TJ13 understands is backed by a ‘wealthy family’.
It is thought that the name BCE could be a clue as to which individual and their family are behind it. Some information points to James Matthews, a former F3 driver turned businessman who is married to Pippa Middleton, sister to the Dutchess of Cambridge, Catherine Windsor.
But there could be a clue in the name of the firm itself – BCE.
Might this be the initial’s of one Bernard Charles Ecclestone, former ‘ringmaster’ of F1? Certainly TJ13 had previously reported some months ago that Bernie was ‘actively seeking investors’ to help out his old friend Sir Frank.
“I’m looking for people who could be involved. Owning a team is a very expensive hobby. ” Bernie Ecclestone told AFP, the French language press agency back in June this year.
“It would be the end of an era but I hope that someone who can afford to run the team properly can be found as it is a terrible thing to lose a team like that.
“It is not thinkable. Dear old Frank had to work so hard to make sure the team competed and that happened and now to see it disappear like that, it’s not good, It is a historic team.”
It certainly seems that Bernie did make the investment happen, and appears part of the deal with BCE Limited, perhaps involving James Matthews, former racing driver.
As always, Bernie loves to ‘hide in plain sight’, so perhaps this is the ultimate means to do so with BCE Limited (Bernard Charles Ecclestone), and still retain a hand in F1?
Pandemic re-shaped the F1 industry, brought about new future for online gaming
Williams is certainly not the only one to take a big hit financially in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic did not leave a single industry untouched. Sports suffered a great deal from it.
Competitions, tournaments, and matches were canceled all over the world. As some countries are several phases into reopening now, some competitions with certain restrictions were allowed again. That lockdown period has cost global sports a huge amount, and F1 teams have suffered massive losses in revenue due to canceled Grand Prix in 2020.
The lockdown did bring about a surge in popularity in F1 and motorsport gaming, with virtual racing streamed live, but this time with real drivers.
Certainly, Formula 1 is considered ideal for iGaming platforms, and some fans are looking forward to more virtual racing featuring their racing heroes, with many new ways to enjoy the racing (a flutter no less!), found on real money casinos online.
Struggling with their gamble over the years of rejecting manufacturer buyouts (such as BMW 15 years ago), using pay drivers and refusing to accept majority share sales – Williams suffered a loss of nearly €15m last year and has seen his problems escalate due to the health crisis.
The team recently signed the new Concorde agreement this week to remain in the Formula 1 circus for five more years, where it has been present since 1977.
The teams’ record is incredibly impressive and includes 9 titles of world champion constructors and 7 titles of world champion drivers.
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