Jost Capito, the CEO of Formula One team Williams Racing, recently spoke to Tom Clarkson on the Behind The Grid podcast about his experiences since joining Williams and the exciting future of the team.
Capito joined Williams in December 2020 with a wealth of experience in motor racing having been the CEO of Sauber for three years, briefly serving as the CEO for McLaren in 2016, and winning the Drivers’ and Constructors Championships in the World Rally Championship with Ford and Volkswagen.
Capito was planning on retiring until the opportunity with Williams presented itself, which required little persuading.
“I think it is Williams by itself, that Formula One is Williams and Williams is Formula One. I would not have taken any other job in Formula One,” said Capito when asked why he joined Williams.
“It is one of the legendary teams of Formula One and you just have to do it.
“It didn’t take me long when I first got in touch with the new owners it became pretty clear for me, they have the right mindset, they want Williams to be Williams in the future.
“They really want to get Williams back to the top and they know what it takes to get Williams back to the top.”
Capito has been a fan of Williams since he was a child, going with his father to the Nürburgring to watch the Forumla One in the early 60s.
“You can’t be a Formula one fan since the 60’s and not been a fan of Williams, that’s simply impossible because they have such heritage and success and the drivers who have been there,” said Capito passionately.
With Dorilton Capital purchasing the team in August last year and the subsequent departure of founder Sir Frank Williams and Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams, the team has taken some time to re-adjust to the changes according to Capito.
“The change of ownership and the family isn’t involved on a daily basis anymore and that is a huge change for the team because as long as the team was existing it was Frank there, Claire there every single day,” said Capito
“I think what is now very important is to give the team the confidence that we still love the heritage we have, we love the Williams name, we are still close to the family and everything that was good about Williams is still there and will be there but we are not getting caught in the past because we have to move forward.”
Having only scored one championship point in the past two years, now with Dorilton Capital on board Capito has renewed optimism that with further invest Williams will be able to get back to being the legendary team they once were.
“The team itself is very good and I think the 10th position does not reflect the capability of the team.
“There had been financial restrictions in the last couple of years and if you don’t have the opportunity to invest in new technologies and go with new technologies you are falling behind and that is what happened.”
“I think now with Dorilton investments coming in and came in last year to get the tools and infrastructure up to speed where it needs to be, that for me is the basis to get the team back to the top.”
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George Russell and Nicholas Latifi
Capito was instrumental when at Sauber in bringing a young Kimi Raikkonen to the team in 2001 and sees a lot of what he saw in Raikkonen in George Russell.
“His driving is brilliant, his natural talent is brilliant, but he doesn’t just rely on his natural talent he is working very hard as well and he’s demanding,” said Capito.
“He is never happy, and a driver should never be happy with what he has but he has the ability to get the team behind him.”
“Everybody is really pushing and motivated to give him what he is demanding and that is an ability that a top driver needs.”
For Russell’s teammate Nicholas Latifi, Capito is hoping to see improvement from the Canadian following an uneventful rookie season.
“I think he can show and improve a lot this season, I believe he is better than his reputation is,” said Capito.
“He had a couple of 11th positions last year so he was close to a point.”
“It was his rookie year as well last year, so he has to learn, and he has learnt from that and he has to prove this year that he learnt last year.”
Outlook on 2021 and 2022 season
Capito said that success this year will not be measured by the teams’ position in the championship or by the number of points due to the car changing little from last year.
“We are where we are and we know that but will fight to get every point we can get, reducing mistakes, develop clever strategy and maybe do things different than others do to get points when they are on the table,” he said.
“For us it is that we close the gap to the teams that are in front of us and in principle not doing mistakes and using the potential of the car we have but we will not sacrifice the 22 car because we want to make the 21 car faster.”
New proposed rule changes will come into effect for the 2022 Formula One season which will see restrictions on spending set at $175m per team, per year.
This will apply to anything that covers on-track performance, closing the disparity between the big spenders and those with fewer resources.
Although this is expected to make the competition more competitive Capito warned not to expect Williams to be competing for the championship against the likes of Mercedes, Ferrari and Redbull in 2022.
“To be realistic we want to do a significant step, but it would be completely unrealistic to believe we will have the car that can win the championship next year,” Capito said.
“Of course, the new regulations give a chance but as you see the new owners came in towards the end of last year and there is a lot of investment needed, you have to make this investment work.”
“To make that all work for the 22 car is already quite late.”
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