Losses widen at Williams F1 owner

Pastor Maldonado, from Venezuela, front, drives his Williams F1 race car followed by Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, from Spain, top, during the Spanish  Grand Prix at Catalunya racetrack in Montmelo, near Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, May 13, 2012. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

Pastor Maldonado, from Venezuela, front, drives his Williams F1 race car followed by Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, from Spain, top, during the Spanish Grand Prix at Catalunya racetrack in Montmelo, near Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, May 13, 2012. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

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The owner of the Williams F1 team said its losses widened today even as the outfit begins to find form on the track again.

Williams Grand Prix Holdings said losses deepened to £18.8 million from £2.8 million a year ago, due to a non-recurring sponsorship payment 12 months ago. Sales fell to £46.6 million from £56.4 million.

The team, which has won nine constructors’ titles and seven drivers’ championships, is enjoying a renaissance on the track and is currently fourth in the constructors’ table after spending years as a mid-field outfit.

The Oxfordshire-based group also runs Williams Advanced Engineering, a unit that sells F1 technology to other manufacturing groups. It is currently working on a project with Go-Ahead to improve the fuel efficiency of its buses.

Chief executive Mike O’Driscoll said: “At the beginning of the second half of last year we began an ambitious strategy to rebuild the Formula One organisation, develop a strong advanced engineering division, and divest non-core operations. We have already made substantial progress towards our objectives.

“This strategy has required significant investment, as illustrated by our first half results, and it is anticipated that this will also impact the full year results.”

Last year the team hired veteran engineer Pat Symonds to redesign its F1 car, and so far the results have led its lead driver Valtteri Bottas to fifth in the driver’s standings.

Founder and team principal Sir Frank Williams said: “Our on track performance through the first half of this season is evidence that we have started to build a solid foundation for the future.

“Our long-term financial prosperity will of course always be a reflection, both directly and indirectly, of our Formula One performance.”

“The impressive upturn in our performance this season is validating our approach.”

Williams was launched by Sir Frank in the mid-1960s and by the 1980s and 1990s regularly competed with British rival McLaren for drivers’ and constructors’ titles.

Its last championships came in 1997, when it again became the best team and won the drivers’ title with Jacques Villeneuve.

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