After buying Williams F1, the investors in Dorilton Capital, who have some knowledge of motorsport, made a landmark decision: to replace Claire Williams with Simon Roberts, temporarily and then ultimately permanently. Williams’ CEO has also been replaced: Jost Capito has arrived to take on his new role.
Capito is a household name in F1: he served in the same role as CEO at McLaren, but for a very short period (September-December 2016 only). The experiment had obviously not worked. Yet it was Capito who, after having successfully completed a slow and painstaking recruitment process, was chosen.
Why then Capito? Williams in truth would like to make him another Andreas Seidl, the manager of the McLaren team in F1: arrived in Woking to restore order and revive the machine, the former Porsche was one of the key architects of the recovery oranges.
Because Capito’s experience is not limited to this short stint at McLaren, and fortunately: behind him, he has four decades in motorsport, at Porsche (like Seidl …) or Ford. But his greatest success is in the WRC: he has won 4 constructors’ titles in a row with Volkswagen.
Capito also has a little F1 experience: he worked at Sauber in the mid-90s (in addition to his short stint at McLaren).
So, of course, Williams relied on the WRC experience. Capito would have shown the suitable qualities for a position today at Williams, a team in difficulty: namely to galvanize the team, to rectify it morally and structurally, to improve the processes – and the delay always seems immense in this area at Williams. , the highlight having been the failed Barcelona tests in 2019.
Capito also demonstrated (at Volkswagen at least) deep leadership and management qualities: very visible in the team, he was particularly supported by the employees, his management being at the time very human and close to the people.
But can’t McLaren’s experience cool Williams down? We must come back to the reasons for Woking’s failure for Capito. He had been recruited by Ron Dennis (who does not have great human qualities…). The objective was to restructure the team and especially to oil the processes with Honda, which was suffering so much at the time.
But we know the rest: the 2017 engine was a disaster and trust with Honda was broken; Ron Dennis, who had recruited Capito, was also made to leave.
McLaren then wanted to start again on new bases: and that meant the arrival of Zak Brown and the departure of Capito. Seidl would eventually complete McLaren’s successful turnaround process.
Williams is then based on a paradox: the team wants to recover like McLaren, by choosing the man dismissed by Woking at the time.
But Grove also considered Capito’s complementarity with Simon Roberts: the latter, in his new role, will be more in charge of the day-to-day management of the team, of operations. Capito will study more a new strategic vision for the team, in the medium term. Other reinforcements could also come to complete his team.
Ultimately the Roberts-Capito tandem symbolizes the new medium-term management desired by Dorilton Capital: with a clearer structure, with new men, with new money of course, Dorilton wants to imitate McLaren in its recovery. The capped budgets and the 2022 regulation give Grove a new opportunity: hope is back, strength too …