BERNIE ECCLESTONE is NOT the mysterious buyer of the Williams Formula One team – as questions are raised about the future of the family dynasty.
Williams said last week that the team had been sold to American private investment firm, Dorilton Capital.
The New York-based company paid £136million for complete control but on further investigation, the sale has been transferred to a company called BCE Limited, a fund managed by Dorilton Capital.
Little is known about BCE and the team’s deputy team boss, Claire Williams refused to divulge any details – but she did rule out a sale to former F1 supremo, Ecclestone, who shares the same initials as the secretive owners.
She said: “I spoke to Mr. Ecclestone earlier in the week, and I did ask if it was him behind it. That’s a joke, by the way, it’s not. Bernie has nothing to do with our new ownership.
“Dorilton Capital is completely independent and Bernie is not the new owner of Williams. I cannot get into a whole lot of detail of the people behind Dorilton, that will become clearer over the coming weeks and months.
“But they have done a lot of due diligence and gone through everything to understand our team and the sport. They have some very strong advisors who have been helping them through this to build their knowledge.
“They are already working in the team in order to understand what is required going forward. I have absolute confidence they are the right people to take this team forward.”
When pushed as to who BCE were, the new owners, Williams simply said “I have no comment to make”.
While she is adamant that the sale was essential to keep the team in business, there is a feeling that both Williams and her father, Sir Frank, who formed the team in 1977 could be forced out as part of a management overhaul.
The Grove-based team have slumped to the back of the grid and urgently require investment, which the team are confident will come from the new owners.
When quizzed about her position, she added: “This is very early days and it is business as usual. I am running the team in my capacity and that will continue to be the case.
“I would be lying if I didn’t say it had been an emotional few months but we have managed to get our heads around it and that is a good thing.
“At Williams, we have always put the team first. It has been at the heart of the Williams’ family.
“We put our people first and our success and the future of our team first when making decisions in what we do.
“So it was almost a no-brainer for us. The team needed the investment and it now has a really bright future under its new owners and you will see the Williams name racing in Formula One.
“I am really pleased that the Concorde Agreement and most importantly, the financial regulations that are coming through with the cost cap and the redistribution of the prize money.
“It will make a big difference for teams like ours and whether the Williams family own it or not, it doesn’t matter.”
Meanwhile, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has swerved questions about his own future.
The Austrian is out of contract at the end of the year and said two weeks ago he was reevaluating his future.
And when quizzed on TV if he has reached a decision, he quipped: “Maybe I will work for Sky and do some of the analysis.
“I come fresh out of the job and have a lot of information if you offer me a good deal.”
Wolff also dodged questions about signing Lewis Hamilton up to a new deal, making reference to when they completed the Brit’s last deal over a pizza.
He added: “Lots of pizzas to be eaten and lots of things to be discussed.
“It is a funny situation because we get along so well, we are hesitant to have the difficult discussions.”