Williams Recent Problems In F1 Should Be A Warning To Liberty Media
Williams F1. A classic team and essential in the heritage of the sport which is now global today, and has constantly been fighting for titles throughout its lifetime, but something has gone seriously wrong. And it's because of the sport, not the team.
The sport has had changes throughout the teams lifetime, but recently the problems of these challenges have been seen in the once great Formula 1 team. Firstly, the costs of the sport have been rapidly increasing, especially for the teams who are fighting at the front of the grid. Williams is a well-known family team, and because of these, they do not have major backing of any companies as the team is majority owned by the Williams family itself. This means a major problem for the team as they cannot compete, seen in how the car was during last season. Liberty needs to make the changes which they say they would do, and a cost cap could suit this. If the upward trajectory of expenses increases, it will increase the number of teams going bankrupt (For example the new 2010 teams), and will also decrease competitiveness and will kill off any new teams entering the sport.
The second problem with the sport which is shown by the once great Formula One team is the loss of revenue for the teams. Williams recently lost their partnership with the alcoholic drinks brand Martini, as well as numerous other brands. This could be linked with the loss of competitiveness, however, the loss of revenue goes far deeper than just grid positions. Formula One is losing clout compared to other newer series like Formula E due to it just being seen as non-profitable. Teams charge large amounts for space of their branding on the car because of how expensive the sport now is, and Liberty must change this. They could add the cost cap, as I said in the previous paragraph, however the real problem comes with the lack of evolution. Brands do not see enough change, and stagnation causes the loss of revenue, so Liberty needs to either change elements for the fans, or the brands, to ensure the companies do not leave, as they are crucial for team funding, seen in how Red Bull transformed the once independent Minardi team.
The final problem seen in the Williams team is the dependence on the brands making the engines and the lack of independent suppliers to each team. The main suppliers of Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault (Honda only supply the Red Bull family of cars) and therefore have a dominance of the teams around them. Williams this year have a Mercedes youth product in George Russell driving their car, and it has been speculated that Mercedes had the first grab on the second spot in the driver lineup. This shows the change required by the sport, as this dominance will remove the power of independent teams and will eventually cause an oligopoly in the sport, so no other engine providers can join. Liberty needs to make the engine cheaper to make, so other brands which were once interested in the sport like Audi can finally join without spending years on the back of the grid, an example being Honda's comeback in 2015. There is a high risk that the lack of engine suppliers could damage the sport, and stop any growth and force other teams under control because of their power unit choice to make strategic decisions on behalf of the bigger teams making the engine.
Overall, there are many changes that Formula One needs to make to ensure its stability and competitiveness from a business standpoint as well as a sporting standpoint, and many of these changes that need to be done are reflected in the problems which are currently engulfing one of the great historic Formula One teams in Williams.