The Women of Williams F1
Nine Constructors’ Championships, eight Drivers’ Championships, 114 race victories, and 128 pole positions. That’s a lot for the Williams family to be proud of!
Another thing they can be proud of is the opportunities they have given for women to be involved in the sport...
Last weekend a chapter in the history books drew to a close when the Williams family bowed out of Formula 1 after selling the team to new owners, Dorilton Capital. It is indeed a very significant moment in the history of the sport as we see the last family owned team depart and pass on the baton.
As Deputy Team Principal, Claire showed that women can and should work in leadership in this man’s world of motorsport. She proved herself to be, and continues to be, a role model for many women and young girls. Without representation it's hard to believe that you can do something but witnessing Claire in such a high profile role just proves what is possible to achieve!
Claire joined the team in 2002 initially working as a Communications Officer and by 2010 she had become the Head of Communications. The following year, Claire was appointed as Director of Marketing and Communications. Before becoming the Deputy Team Principal in 2013, Claire sat on the team’s board as the Williams family representative.
Outside of the realm of leadership, Williams also has a number of women working for them in other departments. In 2018, we chatted to Isla Mackenzie about working as a technician in Williams’ Prototype and Test department. Isla was the first woman to have worked in that department.
We loved chatting with Isla about her role and she shared some important thoughts for others who would like to work in Formula 1 or motorsport more generally.
“Don't compare yourself,” Isla Mackenzie told us. “I was once asked if I thought I would have to work harder because I was female. I don’t want someone to expect me to work harder because I’m female.”
On the racing front Williams has also been at the forefront of giving opportunities to women, in comparison to other F1 teams. One example being Susie Wolff, the founder of Dare To Be Different and Venturi Formula E team principal. Wolff was Williams Racing’s development driver in 2012 and 2013, before becoming their official test driver in 2014.
It was in this role that Wolff got the opportunity to participate in a grand prix weekend - becoming the first women to do so since 1992, and doing so on home soil at Silverstone! Susie went on to have another three F1 practice outings before her retirement from racing in 2015.
Jamie Chadwick is another driver to be given a great opportunity by Williams team. The W Series inaugural champion signed as a Williams Development Driver in 2019. After the signing Claire Williams stated that Chadwick’s successful form meant that she had been on Williams radar for a number of years.
Also regarding the signing Claire said: “Promoting women in motorsport is extremely important and having a female role model as part of our Driver Academy will hopefully inspire young girls to take up racing at a young age.”
In her role, Jamie has undertaken simulator work as well as trackside engagements and marketing activities for the team.
Another key player for the Williams outfit is their Head of Communications Sophie Ogg, who has been at the team since late 2010. She can often be seen in the paddock, smiling with the drivers or with her phone in hand!
Sophie fell in love with motorsport at a young age after her dad took her to a British Touring Car Championship race and used to work at her local tracks at the weekends, helping out in any way she could.
Kat is Partner Manager at the team and has been at Williams for just under two years. Prior to this, Kat was at football giants Manchester United and Bath Rugby. Kat documents her time in the Formula 1 paddock on her Twitter account, where you can see what she gets up to!
Sofia Cerne and Nasrin Shahed
Sofia Cerne is a Structural Engineer who studied at Bath University before joining the Oxfordshire-based team in a junior position. In addition to this, Nasrin Shahed Khah is a part of the Advanced Engineer Team where she works as a Battery Systems Engineer.
This is just a snapshot into some of the wonderful women who contribute to Williams, and there are many more who we haven’t been able to write about here who also play a key role.
Thanks to Williams Racing for helping change the outlook and prospects for women in motorsport! We wish Claire and Sir Frank all the best for life outside of the F1 Paddock.
Take a look at Williams' current vacancies.