08 March 2020

Formula 1 team Williams' poor form is nothing to do with me having a baby, says Claire Williams

Claire Williams, deputy principal at Formula 1 team Williams racing, has hit out at suggestions the team's struggles are connected with her having a baby.

Williams, 43, has run the team since 2013 and critics have suggested her team's dip in form has coincided with her becoming a mother in 2017.

The team, who are nine-time constructors' champions, experienced the worst season in their history in 2019 and have not had a driver on the top of the podium since 2012.

She said people 'maybe give me a rougher time because I am a woman'.

"I have had someone say to me that a lot of people in the Formula 1 paddock think that the team started doing badly when I fell pregnant and had a baby," she said.

"Am I not allowed a child because I am a woman running a Formula 1 team? It is a disgraceful attitude and a very 19th-century attitude."

Williams is determined to 'use the fact I am a woman in this male-dominated world to change attitudes within the sport'.

She finished by saying: "I would love to walk down the paddock this year having taken the team to a better place, to show that I can be a wife, I can be a mother and still run a Formula 1 team in a successful way."

She assumed the day-to-day running of Williams in 2013 when her father Sir Frank stepped down and she oversaw a third place finish in the constructors' championship the following year.

However, the team finished bottom last year scoring only one point and the car was shown to be nearly 1.5 seconds slower than the next slowest on the grid.

She added that her role meant she had taken 'a huge amount of criticism'.

Williams has taken precautions to try to reduce the impact this has on her. "I am not on social media," she said, "I don't engage and I don't read the coverage as to whether people are saying Claire Williams should go," she said.

"It is about what you do as a human being when you are on your knees that counts. I know the job I do and the value I bring to this team."

She said 'fundamental changes' are required - not only in F1 - as to 'how we address women in the workplace' because 'it is so far behind the times'.

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