Williams announces split from title sponsor, could sell F1 team

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Formula 1’s third most successful outfit Williams is set to part ways with its title sponsor ROKiT just after a single year, the Grove-based team has announced on Friday.

For the 2019 F1 season, Williams entered into a partnership with telecommunications company ROKiT. Despite the promising start to that collaboration, the team has now announced that it has terminated the sponsorship agreement with the British company. The partnership was set to run until the end of 2023.

Williams have also announced the end of its partnership with ROKiT Drinks which began at the start of this year.

With the livery of the Williams FW43 having been created around the ROKiT sponsorship, the team has revealed that its 2020 car could feature a very different colour scheme when the race machines finally roll out of the garages. The team is expected to unveil it new livery before the start of the delayed 2020 F1 season.

Next to announcing the termination of the sponsorship agreement with ROKiT, the team has also issued a report on its financial results for 2019. The company has endured a loss of £13m, down from a profit of £16m in the previous year while the group revenue declined to £160.2m in 2019, from £176.5m in 2018. Williams’ F1 team ended 2019 with a loss of £10.1m compared to a profit of £16m in 2018.

Issuing a statement on Friday, Williams has revealed that it was in a phase of reviewing the company’s financial plans for the future. The company does not rule out to sell a minority or majority stake, insisting that the sale of the whole company is also among the possibilities.

“The WGPH board is undertaking a review of all the various strategic options available to the Company. Options being considered include, but are 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.”

“Whilst no decisions have been made regarding the optimal outcome yet, to facilitate discussions with interested parties, the Company announces the commencement of a "formal sale process" (as referred to in Note 2 on Rule 2.6 of the Takeover Code).”

Williams Chief Exectutive Officer Mike O’Driscoll reflected on Formula 1’s first-ever budget cap that is set to be introduced in 2021. The cost cap is aimed at providing the sport with a more level playing field, limiting the expenditures of the teams.

„There has been an enormous gap in earnings and expenditure between the three largest teams and the rest of the grid for a number of years, but we are confident that Liberty Media's long-term vision and plans, including a first-ever cost-cap for the sport, will deliver a more level playing field for 2021 and beyond, on which all teams can compete more fairly,” he said.