As part of the change, technical director Francois-Xavier Demaison is now on top of trackside leadership matters
By Olivia Kairu
Simon Roberts has left Williams as CEO Jost Capito takes over his duties as team principal, the team has announced on a press release. As part of the change, technical director Francois-Xavier Demaison is now on top of trackside leadership issues, also previously under Roberts’ supervision.
Dorilton Capital acquired the outfit in September, triggering the departure of the Williams family that created the team in 1977 and led it ever since. Capito joined as CEO in February, starting to reconstruct the internal organization of the team in his 100-day review, which eventually led to him absorbing Robert’s duties.
Capito has vast experience in the automotive and motorsports world, having worked as a managing director for Volkswagen in the World Rally Championship, winning three consecutive World Rally Championships. He also was the McLaren CEO for a short time.
“Simon has played an integral role in managing the transition over the last 12 months and I would like to thank him for his great contribution during that time,” said Capito in a brief statement.
The legendary British team has Canadian Nicholas Latifi and George Russell as their driving duo and sits last in the standings with no points after six races. Williams has won nine F1 constructors’ championships and seven drivers’ championships, with Canadian driver Jacques Villeneuve claiming the last of them in 1997.
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Roberts, a mechanical engineer, joined Williams as managing director months before Claire Williams departed as team principal in late 2020. He then replaced her as interim team principal which soon turned into a permanent role later in the year.
“It has been a pleasure to take on the role of team principal following the departure of the Williams family from the sport,” said Roberts. “However, with the transition well under way, I am looking forward to a new challenge and wish everyone in the team well.”
Before his time at Williams, Roberts has also held various managerial positions and as the chief operating officer in McLaren and Force India for 17 years.
Technical director Francois-Xavier Demaison, who also worked with Capito at Volkswagen, will also take over Roberts’ trackside duties, overseeing more technical aspects from the factory and the race track.
Willy Rampf, another colleague to both Capito and Demaison in Volkswagen, will work as a consultant. Rampf worked as both Technical Director in VW and Sauber for many years.
“He is a brilliant engineer and he worked for almost 10 years with Willy Rampf, who was previously a technical director in Formula 1,” said Capito. “They worked very closely together, and as a result a lot of Formula 1 technology and knowledge flowed into the WRC car. During this time, he learned a lot from Willy Rampf. That’s why I think he’s a perfect fit for Williams.”
Capito’s 100-day restructuring plan has shaken the inner workings of the legendary team as new roles are being created and new people are being appointed, with some reports suggesting a new position of head of race engineering is to be announced soon. The position of sporting director also remains vacant.