As one of the only two female Formula 1 Team Principals in history, Claire Williams made her mark on motorsports history with her leadership of Williams F1. ATRL’s Tiegan Batchelor takes a look at her legacy.
In a historically male-dominated sport, it’s refreshing to know that there was a woman at the helm of one of the most successful Formula One teams. In the 7 decades of F1, Claire Williams joins Monisha Kaltenborn as one of the only 2 female F1 Team Principals. Despite this, Williams has clearly demonstrated that she can successfully carry on a legacy and women belong in decision-making roles within motorsport.
After taking her father’s place on the board in 2012, she moved on to be the deputy team principal the following year. While the team had recently struggled, Claire took the reins and steered the team towards some promising results. Within the first 9 months of Claire Williams’ tenure, the team finished 3rd in the Constructors’ Championship. The year after, they secured another 3rd place finish, following two 5th place finishes in the two years thereafter.
Additionally, the team has seen and shaped talented drivers. George Russell who recently moved to Mercedes for the 2022 season, tweeted:
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without Frank and Claire. They gave me my shot in F1, like they have done for so many drivers, engineers, mechanics and countless others.”
Claire Williams doesn’t consider herself as a ‘trailblazer’, but when speaking to Sky Sports in 2020, she stated that she did the best job she could, given her circumstances. While this is a modest view of her role, it is clear that she has been inspirational to many – garnering increasing female interest in working in F1. Furthermore, she set up female ambassadors from different departments within Williams, to attend primary and secondary schools, in order to educate them on potential job opportunities within the industry.
Moreover, Steph Carlin of the F2 applauded Claire’s success and ultimately her decision to step down in the end.
“What she has done for women in showing what can be done when you’ve reached the highest level in securing investment for the team, that many other teams on the gird would be jealous of, should be applauded.”
After a few turbulent years, the Williams family took the decision to step away from the team, but Claire Williams’ work will live on. In a sport where men are the majority, Williams hopes that she has been able to play a key role in encouraging more gender diversity within F1. In her interview with ESPN in 2021, Claire explained that after the news of her exit from Williams, a number of women gushed about how much she inspires them as a woman in such a high-profile position.
Overall, Claire Williams was an integral part of F1 history, elevating the success of the Williams F1 team in her role as Deputy Team Principal. Although she is no longer in the sport, she serves as a benchmark for many prospective candidates who – one day – would like a similar career. Lastly, Williams also told ESPN that if she has been able to inspire any woman to enter the sport, it makes her “incredibly happy”. She then added that having greater gender diversity creates better working environments for all involved.
On one hand, there are considerably more women in motorsport as of late, but it is clear there is a long way to go. Claire Williams is a shining example of strong female leadership, especially in such a well-recognized and successful team.
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