Ralf Schumacher ‘surprised’ by Jost Capito’s exit, blames ‘impatient’ investors

Michelle Foster
Jost Capito sat on the Williams pit wall. Melbourne, April 2022.

Jost Capito, wearing headphones, looks on from the Williams pit wall during the Australian Grand Prix. Melbourne, April 2022.

Ralf Schumacher has weighed in on this week’s team boss moves, saying Williams didn’t give Jost Capito enough time while McLaren’s dual leadership may have prompted Andreas Seidl’s exit.

While all the focus in the off-season was on Ferrari, Formula 1 fans waiting to learn who would replace Mattia Binotto as the Scuderia’s next team boss, Williams shocked everyone when they announced on Monday night that Capito would be leaving.

After just two years at the helm, Matthew Savage, chairman of Williams’ owners Dorilton Capital, announced: “We would like to thank Jost for his hard work and dedication as we embarked on a major transformation process to begin the journey of reviving Williams Racing.”

No one outside of Williams saw that coming, probably not even Capito who days prior had spoken with PlanetF1.com about his goals for the 2023 championship.

Schumacher, a former driver turned pundit, was as “surprised” as the rest of us.

“The position will be filled internally,” he told Sky Deutschland of Capito’s departure. “I’m surprised that Jost had to go.

“I could imagine that the investors were a little angry and not happy with the progress. You can also see that from the fact that other important people in the team also had to go.

“I’m sorry for Jost. I think the executive floor were too impatient, he should have had a little more time.”

Williams also said goodbye to Francois-Xavier Demaison Williams, who was installed by Capito as the team’s technical director.

Schumacher reckons the team’s results, Williams once again bottom of the log in 2022, were “below the expectations” of Dorilton who bought the team from the Williams family.

“Teams like Williams and Alfa Romeo have to take the next step at some point,” he continued.

Alfa Romeo and McLaren jump on the team boss merry-go-round

Alfa Romeo joined Williams on the team boss roundabout, the team confirming the worst-kept secret in the paddock as they announced Fred Vasseur would be leaving with Ferrari welcoming him as their new team boss minutes later.

But what came next was a surprise to many with the Hinwil-based team, soon to be Audi, announcing former McLaren team boss Andreas Seidl as the Sauber Group’s new CEO.

McLaren in turn revealed Andrea Stella had been promoted from executive director of racing to the team principal job.

Schumacher questioned whether leading McLaren in partnership with the “very explosive” Zak Brown was a “good” situation for Seidl.

“At McLaren,” he said, “it will all take a little while before they can drive at the front again. The restructuring and the wind tunnel construction, which are absolutely necessary, still need time.

“It was perhaps all too long for Andreas.

“We also had dual leadership at McLaren with CEO Zak Brown. I don’t know if that’s always good. Brown is also very explosive.”

As such Sauber’s upcoming link with Audi appealed to the German.

Bad news for Valtteri Bottas?

Schumacher reckons one of Seidl’s first objectives will be to establish a strong line-up for what will, in 2026, be the Audi team.

But facing two years, 2024 and 2025, without any major backing given Alfa Romeo will cut ties with the team at the end of next season, Schumacher questions Valtteri Bottas’ worth to the team.

His current team-mate, Zhou Guanyu, doesn’t have the same problems given his backing from Chinese sponsors.

“At Sauber you now have time to set everything up before you join Audi,” the former F1 driver said. “I’m curious to see what ideas Andreas has for the drivers.

“Guanyu Zhou is more or less firmly in the saddle, he’s also bringing a lot of money with him, until 2026 is not unimportant for Sauber.

“Valtteri Bottas, on the other hand, should not necessarily stay too long.”

Read more: How Ferrari’s move for Fred Vasseur pushed McLaren into action