OXFORD, England (AP) — After previously enjoying sustained success, Williams is now considering selling its storied Formula One team because of financial problems.
The Williams Grand Prix Holdings group posted a loss of 13 million pounds ($16 million) for the year ending in 2019, according to its latest financial results released Friday, after making a profit of 12.9 million pounds ($15.9 million) in 2018.
“As part of this new strategic direction, the WGPH board is undertaking a review of all the various strategic options available … including a potential sale of the whole company,” Williams said in a statement. “(The company) confirms that it is in preliminary discussions with a small number of parties regarding a potential investment.”
Founded by Frank Williams in 1966, Williams is the third most successful team in the sport with nine constructors’ titles and seven drivers’ titles.
But it has struggled in recent years, finishing in last place in the constructors’ standings in 2018 and ’19. In those two seasons combined, Williams scored only eight points despite using engines provided by world champion Mercedes.
F1 is facing tough times financially because of the coronavirus outbreak. The 2020 season has yet to start with four races canceled and six postponed.
Williams dominated large swathes of the 1980s and 1990s, winning multiple championships with the likes of Alan Jones, Keke Rosberg, Nelson Piquet, Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost and Damon Hill.
But its competitiveness has declined this century.
Although Williams went through a brief renaissance from 2014-17, when it finished third twice and then fifth twice, the team has fallen off the pace.
Williams struggled badly last year, scoring only one point from Robert Kubica’s 10th-place finish at the German Grand Prix in July.
“The financial results for 2019 reflect the recent decline in competitiveness of the F1 operation and the consequent reduction in commercial rights income” Williams CEO Mike O’Driscoll said. “After four years of very solid performance in the FIA F1 Constructors’ Championship during which we claimed two third and two fifth place finishes, we endured a couple of very difficult seasons.”