Williams commercial director James Bower has downplayed the financial impact of losing Nicholas Latifi’s sponsorship, saying the “reality is slightly different” to the rumours.
Last year Williams called time on Latifi’s stay, bringing to an end his three-year career in which he made 61 starts and scored just nine points.
But as he walked out the door, so too did a few sponsors headed by Sofina, the company owned by the Canadian’s father.
That, it has been reported, set the team back approximately £16m.
Williams made up some of that shortfall through the signing of Gulf Oil, the iconic logo appearing on the FW45 along with Duracell and Acronis to name a few.
Bower says the new sponsors, topped by Gulf’s reported £4m deal, have filled the gap left by Latifi.
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“I think we are clearly in a multi-year commercial plan of how we rebuild the team,” he said. “I think there’s a perception about lost revenue from recent changes where the reality is slightly different.
“We are launching a number of new partners as we go into the season as well so I think we’re in a more robust position than the team has been in for a number of years.
“And we’re ambitious and aggressive with how are in the market as well and how we investing in building the Williams brand. Of course having Gulf as part of the commercial partner portfolio for that journey is really exciting.”
Targeting the American market
With the only American driver on the grid racing, Williams have an in with the American market through Logan Sargeant.
The Floridian will make his Formula 1 debut this season, racing alongside Alex Albon.
Williams, although former team boss Jost Capito made it clear last season that Sargeant had not been signed just for his nationality, intend on capitalising on the American’s presence.
“Of course it’s extremely exciting having Logan with the team as the first American driver in the sport for a full season since 2006,” Bower said. “But we have been investing in a number of Americas of our proposition to partnerships.
“So I think we are the only team to have an office actually in America – in New York, in Tribeca – we have a large fan engagement team based out of that office which is led by the former senior vice president of fan engagement for the NFL.
“There are a number of American sports marketing specialists in that team.
“We’re investing in fan activations around the U.S. races and assets that we have in-market, so when those things come together with Logan and Jamie Chadwick on the academy as well competing in INDY NXT it’s building a centre of gravity that is helping us commercially.”
All Williams need from Sargeant is more points than crashes
Logan Sargeant joins Williams on the back of a solid Formula 2 campaign, the 22-year-old securing two race wins on his way to fourth place in the championship.
He was, however, over 100 points behind series winner and new Aston Martin reserve driver Felipe Drugovich.
Williams have talked up the Florida-born driver, adamant he’s ready for Formula 1. And also insisting him being American didn’t play a part in their decision.
The above comments, and his P4 in F2, suggest it may have been a small factor.
But as long as the American scores more points than the number of crashes he records, he’ll soon be worth more to Williams than Latifi’s sponsorship money.