Frank Williams Sells His Share of Storied Formula One Team

By ADAM COOPER

AUTO WEEK

Williams F1 has sold a minority shareholding to an Austrian group led by investor Christian “Toto” Wolff.

The Williams team has been owned 70/30 by Sir Frank Williams and Patrick Head since it was started in 1977. They have resisted overtures from potential partners, including BMW.

The 37-year-old Wolff is based in Switzerland with his partner, Scottish DTM racer Susie Stoddart. He made his money in a wide range of venture-capital investments under the Marchfifteen and Marchsixteen names. His holdings currently include HWA AG, which operates the Mercedes DTM program, and rally organization BRR, which runs the Red Bull junior team. He also runs a driver-management company with Mika Häkkinen.

Wolff also is a successful racer. He started in Formula Ford in 1992, but has focused mainly on GTs. In 2004, he raced a Ferrari 575 Maranello with close associate and former Formula One driver Karl Wendlinger in the FIA GT series. More recently, he has competed in rallying.

He is lap record holder at the full Nürburgring track, a feat achieved in a Porsche 997 RSR. But he wrecked the car on the next lap after a tire failed at 165 mph.

Now Toyota Quits Formula One

Sheesh…
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The Auto Beat

Posted by: Ian Rowley on November 04

At a hastily arranged press conference this evening in Tokyo, Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda announced that the carmaker is the latest big player to quit Formula One motorsport. Toyota, which competed in 139 races after entering the sport in 2002, winning no races, will quit immediately. Toyoda said the company will also stop providing engines to the Williams team. “It’s a complete withdrawal” he said, citing the “the current severe economic realities”. Toyota follows Honda, which quit F1 last December, and BMW which entered its final race on Nov. 1 in Abu Dhabi. On Nov 2. Japanese tire maker Bridgestone said it would pull also out of the sport, saving $100 million a year.

While long rumored, Toyota’s decision to quit wasn’t a certainty. For one thing, since becoming CEO in June, Toyoda, a keen racer, has talked of giving Toyota a sportier image. At last month’s Tokyo Motor Show, Toyoda showed the $375,000 Lexus LFA supercar, which he a hand in developing, and the rear-wheel driver FT-86 sports concept.

What’s more, despite never winning a race, this season wasn’t all bad with several podium finishes. And, after an injury to first choice driver Timo Glock, Kamui Kobayashi, a Japanese driver who graduated from Toyota’s driver training scheme, impressed in the final two races. Toyoda said the decision had nothing to do with Toyota’s poor record in F1. Indeed, with Toyota expected to post a second consecutive annual loss this fiscal year, it is in some ways surprising Toyota took this long to quit. Running a F1 team can cost upwards of $500 million a year.

A bit like Honda last year, the decision may also make good business sense. Spending such large sums on a sport that isn’t a huge draw in the U.S. may not be the best use of limited resources, especially as F1’s heartland is in Europe where Toyota and Honda aren’t huge players. On yop of that, gas guzzling F1 cars don’t sit comfortably with Toyota’s carefully honed “green” image, while it’s hard to see their relevance to any of the company’s production cars, save the LFA. And, if all that wasn’t reason enough, F1 hasn’t covered itself in glory in recent times. In 2007, the McLaren team was fined $100 million for its part in a spying scandal. Last year, Toyota was one of several teams that put its name to a statement attacking Max Mosley, the chairman of the sport’s governing body after he became embroiled in an embarrassing sex scandal. And this season Flavio Briatore, the chief of the Renault team, was banned for life after instructing one of the team’s drivers to crash on purpose.

Felipe Massa Seriously Hurt in Formula One Crash

Massa Injure Bad
July 27, 2009

Ferrari’s Massa Stable After Surgery on Skull

By BRAD SPURGEON

BUDAPEST — Felipe Massa, a Brazilian driver who finished second in the Formula One series last year, was in stable condition Sunday after surgery for a skull fracture, his Ferrari team said.

The Brazilian was injured Saturday in a qualifying session for the Hungarian Grand Prix when a spring from another driver’s car struck his head while he was driving at more than 250 kilometers, or 156 miles, an hour.

Massa, 28, was taken to the AEK Hospital in Budapest by helicopter, where he was found to have suffered damage to his skull and a concussion. Although he was conscious upon arrival at the hospital, doctors placed him in an artificial coma and operated to repair the bone.

“Massa’s condition remains stable and there were no further complications through the night,” the Ferrari team said in a statement Sunday. “He will be given another CT scan today.”

The accident happened less than a week after Henry Surtees, 18, a Formula 2 driver and son of a former world champion for Ferrari, John Surtees, was killed at a race in England when a wheel that had come off another car struck him in the head, killing him.

Formula One officials said that they would look into whether any further safety measures may be taken, like putting canopies over the drivers’ heads.

Massa’s accident occurred during the second part of the qualifying session. His onboard television camera showed the car going down the track at speed, then straight off into a tire wall, where Massa remained motionless.

In slow motion, the footage showed a wheel spring that had come off the Brawn car of Rubens Barrichello, another Brazilian driver, had bounced down the track and hit the front of Massa’s car before smashing into his helmet. The Brawn car was about four seconds ahead of Massa’s Ferrari at the time.

Ross Brawn, the owner and director of the team, said the spring weighed about 700 to 800 grams, or about 1.5 pounds. He said the team would look into why it had come off.

Formula One cars have open cockpits, which leave the drivers’ heads exposed. The last death of a driver in a race was that of another Brazilian, Ayrton Senna, at Imola in 1994. He was struck in the head by part of his own car’s front suspension during an accident.

Formula One later raised the height of the car body around the drivers’ heads, but the front and top of the helmet remain exposed.

Brawn found a positive element, saying he thought Massa had survived largely because of advances in helmet technology. The front of the top part of Massa’s helmet was damaged, but the whole structure remained intact.

Massa began racing in Formula One in 2002 with Sauber. He joined Ferrari in 2006. Last year he was edged out of the title by Lewis Hamilton in the final race.

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