A quick glance at the Formula One constructors’ championship standings reveals a surprising state of affairs as we head to the final ten races of 2023.
Williams the perennial bottom of the table F1 team have climbed to the dizzying heights of seventh place ahead of Haas, Alfa Romeo and AlphaTauri. All of their points have been scored by ex-Red Bull driver Alex Albon while his rookie team mate again demonstrates how the policy of engaging someone on a pay-to-drive basis usually works out.
The Vowles “bump”
Albon has also had two near misses when he finished P11 just outside the points in Austria and Hungary.
Yet overall the historic British F1 team looks to be making progress since ex-Mercedes James Vowles joined them as their principal in January this year. Of course Vowles will not have been there long enough to influence the fundamental design of the car, but his race track engineering expertise has proved valuable on a number of occasions where Williams have out thought their closest rivals.
Since joining the team, Vowles has been public over how dated much of their equipment and production processes are and appealed to the other team bosses at the recent F1 commission for Williams to be allowed to spend more than the fixed capital allowance so they can catch up to the rest of the field.
Williams with 20 year old tech
Formula One does not restrict the amount a team spends before it joins the sport or even restrict the testing they do as was evidenced by Haas in 2015. So should Andretti be given the green light, they will arrive on the grid with state of the art facilities and a car that has done thousands of miles of testing.
Yet one of F1’s most historic teams through a lack of cash and under investment over the years, is forced to operate with ageing equipment and 20 year old technology.
The other F1 bosses were not sympathetic and in fact some attempted to make their own pitch for a ‘catch up’ opportunity as the meeting descended into a disorderly mess.
$100m lawsuit looms
Now Williams find themselves staring at another cloud on the horizon with a former employee lodging a $100m lawsuit in the United States of America. Whilst this would not be funded with cost cap funds it would hurt the team’s capability in its catchup programme.
Former marketing executive Claudia Schwarz is bringing the law suit she claims will demonstrate Williams efforts to ruin her reputation, unfairly dismiss her and refusing to pay out on legally binding contracts.
Schwartz claims Williams did this by leaking to a magazine that she was having an affair with former CEO Darren Fultz. Further its alleged a “mystery investor” had demanded the F1 team’s budget slashed due to poor on track performances which then forced them to relieve Fultz and Schwartz of their positions.
Williams counter with fraud claim
Williams are countering with a fraudulent behaviour claim against Schwartz. They allege she and her husband conspired to defraud the team by favouring certain suppliers with whom the couple had a connection which resulted in Williams being over charged for a considerable period of time.
The $6.9m counter claim suggests Stewart began the affair with Fultz so she could influence him to approve “inaccurate and overinflated invoices and improper credit card charges”.
Ex-marketing director defends herself
Lawyer Jeremy Friedman acting for Schwartz has issued a statement:
“This lawsuit will bring to light what we contend are false public statements made by Dorilton and Williams about Schwarz and her company that we believe have been done in a calculated effort to avoid both contractual obligations and to put pressure on Schwarz to stay quiet and not defend herself.
“They believed that Schwarz would not fight back and defend herself, her companies and her reputation. She is fighting back.”
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) August 12, 2023