Williams Team Gossip

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Williams Team Gossip

Postby CrazyChick » Wed 16 Jan, 2008 1:39 pm

The Insider - 15 January 2008

Williams Loosens Iron Grip
After four decades at the top of Formula One, there could be signs that one of Britain’s sporting knights has allowed an outsider to invest in his team for the first time. Speculation is rife that Sir Frank Williams has finally sold some of his shareholding in the team that he founded in 1977 with Patrick Head.

It is thought Williams and Head have sold 15 per cent each of the business to Jón Ásgeir Jóhannesson, executive chairman of the Baugur Group, a Scandinavian retail to media business that already has links with the team. Baugur owns brands as diverse as House of Fraser and Iceland food stores. But it is Baugur’s Hamleys toy chain and Mappin & Webb, the upmarket jeweller, that featured most prominently on the Williams livery as the team took to the track yesterday for their new test programme.

Williams is a sporting phenomenon and this year he will celebrate becoming the longest-serving team principal in Formula One, overtaking the 38 years recorded by Enzo Ferrari. He has missed only a couple of dozen races in that time, mainly because of the horrific car accident in 1986 that left him confined to a wheelchair. Now 66, the sport has long wondered whether Williams was preparing for a successor, while Head, his partner and brilliant technical director, is also thought to want to take a back seat. Williams refused to confirm or deny rumours last night, but the increasingly strong sponsorship presence of Baugur is thought to be visible proof that Williams has followed the trend in Formula One and sold off a chunk of his team.

Head and Hain
* Patrick Head will be ruing being dragged into the donations furore surrounding Peter Hain, the Work and Pensions Secretary. Head, worth an estimated £60 million, was listed as one of Hain’s donors, handing over £2,000. A Formula One fan and a regular at the British Grand Prix, Hain has become a close friend of the irascible Williams technical director. They must be close: Head, from a military family and renowned for his hairdrying team talks, is probably the last man Formula One would have considered to have Socialist tendencies.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/columnists/kevin_eason/article3187776.ece

The Times
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