Williams hits out at sexist attitude in F1

Michelle Foster
Claire Williams

Claire Williams has admitted her emotional farewell to her family’s Formula 1 team, which marked the end of an era, had “felt horrible”.

Claire Williams feels she has to hide that she’s a mother with a “lot of people in the Formula One paddock” blaming that for Williams’ decline.

Williams was named deputy team boss back in 2013, taking over the day-to-day running of the Formula 1 team.

The team finished fifth in 2013 before securing back-to-back third places.

The results, though, have been in decline since 2016 with Williams bottom of the log in 2018 and again in 2019.

Prior to that P10s, Williams gave birth to her first child, Nate.

She says some in the paddock blame that for the team’s fall from grace.

“As soon as you are not successful, some people put that down to the fact I am a woman,” Williams told the PA news agency. “They maybe give me a rougher time because I am a woman.

“I have actually had someone say to me that a lot of people in the Formula One paddock think that the team started doing badly when I fell pregnant and had a baby. How dare they.

“There are nine other team principals in F1 and I am sure the majority of them have children. Would you ever level that criticism at them? Am I not allowed a child because I am a woman running a Formula One team? It is a disgraceful attitude and a very 19th century attitude.

“I work seven days a week, pretty much all-year round, and if I didn’t bring Nate to a handful of races then I would rarely see him. But I am criticised for that as well. You cannot win.

“Woe betide me if I walk down the paddock holding my child. I actually have to hide the fact that I am a mother who is trying to run a Formula One team. The fact that Williams are not doing well at the moment is not because I have a child.”

Williams, though, has no issue carrying the blame for the team’s trouble, saying she’s at the top and the buck stops there.

Her only issue is when she is blamed because she is a woman.

“Being the leader and figurehead, I obviously came in for the abuse of the team’s poor performance last year and rightly so,” she added.

“Occasionally, I stupidly made the mistake of reading online comments and people are vicious. It is like seriously? If I ever allowed it to pervade my psyche it could potentially do a huge amount of harm and destroy me.

“But I am not on social media, I don’t engage, and I don’t read the coverage as to whether people are saying Claire Williams should go. Whatever. I don’t care.

“People are entitled to their opinion, but I very much feel unless you walk a day in someone else’s shoes you don’t have a right to criticise. I live by that philosophy.

“I am a Williams and Williams are fighters. It is about what you do as a human being when you are on your knees that counts. It is having people kick you while you are down, rising up through that, and going ‘bugger you’.

“I learned that if can take those knocks, those punches, and I can still get up every day and face my team, walk around Waitrose where people come up to me and say ‘are you Claire Williams?’ And I have to say ‘yes, I am really sorry’, then I know I can look myself in the mirror at night. I know the job that I do and the value I bring to this team.”

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