Frank Williams and Patrick Head have sold an equity stake in their Formula 1 team to an Austrian investment company. Williams and Head have been the sole co-owners of Williams since it was formed in 1977, and there has long been resistance to selling off a part of the company despite frequent speculation linking the team with numerous manufacturers. However, Williams announced on Friday that a deal has been reached with an Austrian investment company led by Christian "Toto" Wolff for him to have shares in the team. He will also sit on the company's board.
As well as his business activities, Wolff is a part-time racer –having competed in recent years in the FIA GT championship and the Austrian Rally Championship – in which he finished runner-up last year.
Frank Williams denied that the sale of some of his equity in the Formula 1 team that bears his name means he will step back from running the squad. But he has insisted that he will remain in full control of the organization for the foreseeable future.
"I have no intention of stopping my involvement in this company or of ceasing my Formula 1 activities," Williams said. "I cannot stress highly enough that Toto is a minority shareholder. The company is still under my control and I will not relinquish control of the business until I go completely.
"It's simply that I want to take care of one or two private needs. I've never taken a penny out of the business in 40 years and time is getting on a bit."
Williams said that the team would be unaffected on a sporting level by the sale of the stake, but that Wolff's involvement in the team could open the door to many new sponsors, due to his extensive business connections.
"Nothing changes, really," he said. "Adam Parr, as our CEO, runs the business on a day-to-day basis. I have a keen interest in the sponsorships of the team and work fairly extensively on that with all the other guys here. Patrick is still very involved, and comes in every day.
"Of course, Toto is a very shrewd businessman and has created and invested in a number of businesses and sold them on for a profit, so him being involved is a benefit to everyone who supports the team, namely our partners and team members. Certainly he can be very useful in finding sponsors. It's an area where he can, I'm sure, be very active."
Wolff confirmed that his stake in Williams is "between 10 and 49 percent."
Who is Christian Wolff?