Following on from my earlier post, Frank Williams said some very interesting things on Saturday afternoon, so here they are in more detail.
He covers the current 2010 entry crisis, explains Max Mosley’s motivation, looks at the problem of engine supply if there is a split and talks about possibly housing one of the new teams on his site.
What is the situation with FOTA, you are suspended, will you go back?
“We are out of FOTA, expelled. Normally when you are expelled, you don’t go back to school or not that one, anyway. In or out, that’s fine. If we were invited back then that would be different.”
So you are committed to the FIA?
“If there are two championships we would want to be in the FIA F1 championship.”
Don’t you want to beat the best of the best?
“Depends on who the best of the best are at any one time doesn’t it? If the manufacturers start their own championship? It’s tough s**t
“It’s not a war, there are two positions, one is the FIA (with Bernie) and the other is a group which is mainly engine manufacturers and if they don’t agree with Max they may well go and form another championship.”
What do you think of the calibre of some of the new teams making entries?
“I started at the bottom and I guess some of these teams would be starting [there] given that there is quite a big gap presently between the teams in terms of know-how and technology.”
What will you do for an engine if there is a split?
“The key feature in all of this is the supply of engines. At the last meeting before the removal of Williams from FOTA it was not lost on me that the engines on the grid today are brilliant pieces of engineering and they almost never go wrong and they last three or four times longer than Cosworth 30 years ago.”
How is the relationship with Toyota since you were expelled from FOTA?
“Tested it a little bit for the first ten minutes then it settled back to normal. We have a contract (for next year) and we would wish to continue. I don’t think the damage goes that deep. I’m very happy with an up to date modern engine. The problem with the Cosworth is that it was fine in 2006 but there’s a lot of catching up to do.”
Do you think the situation can be resolved? What will Ferrari do?
“Ferrari is a key point. The curious thing is that Ferrari is not part of the FIA camp. I don’t think anyone is going to die about this. Max doesn’t want this to turn to pooh, spread all over the papers for the next six months, what damage [people] did to F1. I think there is a will to let’s be human for a change and talk to each other.
“Max isn’t looking for a fight, he just wants to avoid having teams leave, smaller ones in particular because they cannot afford to continue. I would say that he shouldn’t worry if he has six or eight or ten entries, it doesn’t sound like hard times out there, now some of them are hoping to attract the money, but there’s one or two will turn up.”
Williams has a big workforce and state of the art equipment, how will you get the company under a £40 million budget cap?
“That’s an emotional question, because Patrick Head and I have spent quite a few years building up the business. We’ve made money, lost money.
“The next time around, after the budget cap it would make us easier to make profits and remain a healthy viable, saleable business eventually. So one part of me says it would be handy; we could do with a financial breather. But the other part of me says to dismantle Williams to get down to the £40milion I don’t know. It will mean further cuts.”
Do you see some of the new teams being taken onto the factory site of the existing teams to share facilities and so on?
“That is going to happen. We are looking closely at doing that. With a young team which has enough money to do a serious job for a couple of years. Max encouraging teams to help those teams. Normally we’d say [no]. But it’s a case of having enough good teams in case other teams do disappear and it helps us spread our costs and in the case of the budget cap we could offset some of the costs and charges onto the second team. It’s book-keeping and it’s someone else’s problem.”
How does your budget now compare with the last year when you won the world title?
“We are spending around £90 to £100 million this year. In 1997 I think we never spent more than £40 million, but we had a free engine.’