Williams fears financial impact of lost races

Date published: March 19 2020 - Jamie Woodhouse

Claire Williams

Claire Williams admits she is concerned for her team’s financial stability with Formula 1 at a standstill due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Already the opening four rounds in Australia, Bahrain, China and Vietnam have been postponed due to the outbreak, and further postponements followed with the Netherlands, Spain and Monaco.

A video conference took place on Thursday to discuss a proposed new calendar for 2020, but Claire Williams is concerned that the reduced race calendar and resulting drop in hosting fees could have an impact on prize money distribution.

“We’re obviously, like F1, like everybody in every responsible business, monitoring the situation incredibly closely,” she told Autosport.

“We’ve got a steering committee at Williams.

“That’s been in place for a couple of months now to make sure that we’re acting responsibly and safeguarding everybody that works at Williams, and doing what we need to do based on the World Health Organisation’s guidance. And that’s all we can do at this stage.

“We have not got a case at Williams, we haven’t. But we’ve got to make sure that we safeguard our business. And that comes in a variety of different ways to ensuring that we’ve got the capability for remote working, should we need to send our people home.

“I suppose the main consideration for any team is around manufacturing, because you can’t manufacture parts at home. So if we have to shut down our factory that can be incredibly difficult.

“There’s also the consideration around if we don’t go to races, then what happens with prize fund money? Does that then decrease, which obviously would be incredibly difficult to manage? And I suppose at the moment, we’re just hoping that that is not the case.

“And obviously, we’re having conversations about insurance if it is the case, but it’s not an easy situation to manage. We’re in discussions at the moment [regarding insurance].”

Claire Williams also said that the money saved from not going racing doesn’t make up for the lost revenues.

She added: “You’ve still got wages to pay. Most teams their wage bill is the largest proportion of their monthly expenditure. So you still got to pay wages.”

She also made it clear that the team are doing everything they possibly can to protect their staff.

“Of course, it’s our responsibility and duty of care to make sure that everybody knows what they should and shouldn’t be doing,” she explained.

“From increased hand washing and contact with people and keeping themselves safe and making sure that if they do experience any symptoms that they’re managing that appropriately.

“And we’re giving all of our personnel the right support in order to do that.

“It has been a big piece of work that I’m sure all teams up and down the pit lane have been consumed by over the past many, many weeks now that we’re into this situation.

“It’s simply about keeping all your personnel as safe as you possibly can.”

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