HomeNewsFinance & LawFormula OneUnited Kingdom

Williams considers sale of F1 team, ROKiT sponsorship to end

George Russell of Great Britain driving the Rokit Williams Racing FW43 Mercedes (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Williams is considering a partial or full sale of its Formula One motor-racing team, with the company also announcing that it has served notice to end its title sponsorship agreement with telco ROKiT.

Williams made the announcement today (Friday) as it detailed its financial results for 2019. The Williams Grand Prix Holdings (WGPH) group posted a loss of £13m (€14.4m/$16m) for the year, compared to a profit of £12.9m in 2018.

Williams cited the team’s “poor on-track performance” as a driver for the results, with the outfit having finished bottom of the constructors’ championship in both 2018 and 2019. Group revenue also declined to £160.2m in 2019 from £176.5m in 2018.

Williams chief executive Mike O’Driscoll said: “The financial results for 2019 reflect the recent decline in competitiveness of the F1 operation and the consequent reduction in commercial rights income.

“After four years of very solid performance in the FIA F1 constructors’ championship during which we claimed two third and two fifth place finishes, we endured a couple of very difficult seasons. We have implemented a significant restructuring over the last nine months and have strengthened the technical leadership team.”

Williams said the team’s on-track performance has resulted in lower commercial income, which in turn has placed more pressure on overall revenue.

The group has set out a new strategic direction in light of F1’s plans to introduce new financial regulations from next year and new technical regulations for 2022. The first stage of this new direction saw WGPH divest a majority stake in Williams Advanced Engineering in December.

The group board is also considering a number of strategic options, including, but not limited to, “raising new capital for the business, a divestment of a minority stake in WGPH, or a divestment of a majority stake in WGPH including a potential sale of the whole company”.

The group’s statement stressed that no decisions have been made yet but the company has announced the commencement of a “formal sale process” to facilitate discussions with interested parties.

The statement added: “The company is not in receipt of any approaches at the time of this announcement and confirms that it is in preliminary discussions with a small number of parties regarding a potential investment in the company.

“There can be no certainty that an offer will be made, nor as to the terms on which any offer will be made. The WGPH board reserves the right to alter or terminate the process at any time and if it does so it will make an announcement as appropriate. The WGPH board also reserves the right to reject any approach or terminate discussions with any interested party at any time.”

O’Driscoll added that the F1 team has served notice to terminate its agreement with title sponsor ROKiT and major sponsor ROK Drinks. ROKiT extended its title sponsorship deal with Williams in July last year, with the new deal scheduled to run through to the end of the 2023 season.

Meanwhile, ROKiT will continue to serve as the presenting partner for The Race All-Star Series, Torque Esports’ international racing championship. The new deal will run until 2021 and comes after an initial six-week agreement that showcased ROKiT brands such as ROKiT Phones, ABK Beer, Bandero Tequila and Bogart’s Spirits.

The Race All-Star Series comprises three separate championships – the Legends Trophy, the Pro Cup and the Sim Masters.