MONTREAL – When I was a young girl, I was dreaming of becoming one of three things:
- an architect
- a journalist
- a motor racing team principal
There was a fourth profession I considered too, and that was a professional wrestler.
Oh well, what can I say?
Macho Man Randy Savage was inspiration back in the days.
While I was watching Sunday’s F1 race with my brother, seeing Prost and Senna (my hero), to me back to Piquet Sr in the ’80s and early ’90s, Hill, Villeneuve Jr, Michael Schumacher (even though I wasn’t a big fan of him), I was secretly visualizing myself being one of them (except for Schumacher).
In my mind, it wasn’t a matter of why there were no women as team principals in the F1 and the motor racing industry in general, but more a matter of when we would see a woman as a team principal in the F1.
My prayer was answered in 2013 when Claire Williams was the deputy team principal for Williams.
We always talk about Claire’s legendary father, the great, iconic Sir Frank Williams and yes, she is her father’s daughter, but Claire is clearly also her mother’s daughter. Lady Virginia Williams, affectionately called Ginny, was, or should I say still, is the backbone of Williams. Ginny was fierce, insightful, dedicated, super-duper smart, gentle, competitive, and (did I already say she was very smart) she never took anything for granted.
She was, in my eyes, the ultimate first lady of the F1.
Claire, not only is almost the spitting image of her mom, but she sure has the same qualities as her mother.
Both her parents were fighters in the sense that they never gave up in the face of the obstacles and the challenges they had. Claire is clearly a fighter. Apparently, it runs in the Williams’ DNA (in the family and in the company).
The last few years haven’t been easy for Williams racing and in our world, when things are not going smoothly and the team leader is a woman, it’s easy for some cowardly people to say: oh, look, things are not going great for them because the head of the company is a woman. If she is a working mother on top of it, oh lord have mercy, the criticism is even worse. I wonder if during the last few years while Ferrari was struggling, did any of the critics say that the struggle was because Mattia Binotto is a man or because Maurizio Arrivabene was a working dad…
Come on, those kinds of remarks are so sexist! Even in 2020, we are still dealing with sexism. The F1 is a very male dominated world and it’s a very tough business to succeed in.
Claire is not shy to talk about the double-standard she faces every day. She doesn’t waste time justifying her gender. In fact, the whole Williams team evaluated what went wrong last year and are working on a new strategy to be a competitive team on the racing track.
This is a fighting spirit.
Let’s be honest, the F1 world is the same as it was in the ’70s, the ’80s, and 90s. I truly believe that there is still a future for Williams in the F1 and I hope one day to see Williams in Formula E. They have a strong engineering team and they are making positive changes in their team by creating a new planning department. The whole team has regained their confidence.
This year is a good year for women in business and leadership positions.
In Quebec, the CEO of Hydro-Quebec is a woman. Angela Merkel of Germany is the most efficient political leader right now. One day, Claire Williams will conquer the F1 world too.
When you have the capacity to fight back every obstacle that comes your way and you don’t give up on your colleagues and your teammates, tome, you are a true leader.
Williams will still face many challenges,but for the love of the game, we need teams like Williams. Mark my words, the best is yet to come for Williams.
Pure driving, pure racing, that’s what makes me happy – Ayrton Senna