Williams deny the F1 team are up for sale, despite reported Dmitry Mazepin interest

THE Williams Formula One team are not up for sale despite reported financial difficulties — claims Claire Williams.

The Oxford-based outfit have struggled to find lucrative sponsorship deals and endorsements from drivers, while their problems on the track have not helped.

 Claire Williams has denied the British team will sell following recent financial problems

AP:Associated Press
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Claire Williams has denied the British team will sell following recent financial problems

This has led them to be linked with a takeover bid from Russian billionaire Dmitry Mazepin – whose son Nikita is a Racing Point test driver and F2 racer.

Speaking ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Claire Williams said: "I saw those stories, I paid little attention to them.

"I haven't met Mr Mazepin to talk about that. We had a brief conversation in the mid part of last year but subsequent to that there have been no conversations.

"I'd just like to be really categoric about it: Williams is not for sale, I have no intention of putting Williams up for sale. I don't see why we would."

While the F1 team have yet to record a point so far this season, it was the loss of financial backing from Lawrence Stroll and the Martini sponsor that has hit them hardest.

FINANCIAL PROBLEMS

Canadian billionaire Stroll had invested in Williams while his son Lance was racing for them, but became co-owner of Racing Point during the off-season with the Stroll Jr also joining.

Meanwhile, Martini dropped their sponsorship to the F1 outfit – but ROKit have since replaced them to provide Williams with some much-needed funding, along with new driver Robert Kubica's financial backing.

Claire, whose icon father Frank founded the team in 1977, said: "In times like this that the team is going through at the moment, this rumour always come up.

"But with my business head on, when your team isn't doing well selling at this juncture wouldn't be the right time to do.

"We'd only investigate that opportunity if we were doing well. That's the right time to sell.

"Williams is in this sport and has been for more than four decades and we've never wanted to sell."

With only a season-high of 15th to show for themselves so far this season, Williams will be looking to improve at Azerbaijan.

But their race weekend got off to a horrible start as George Russell was caught by a manhole that hadn't been welded down – causing first practice to be cancelled and the young Brit to miss the second half of Friday.

Williams are seeking to get the cost of the damage paid for by the event organisers, but more pressing is that it has put their race plans in jeopardy.

 Williams have yet to score a point this season, but things went from bad to worse after George Russell's car hit a loose manhole in Friday's practice in Azerbaijan

AP:Associated Press
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Williams have yet to score a point this season, but things went from bad to worse after George Russell's car hit a loose manhole in Friday's practice in Azerbaijan

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THE Williams Formula One team are not up for sale despite reported financial difficulties — claims Claire Williams.