Williams Grand Prix Holdings PLC (as it is known to its shareholders) has made the shock announcement that its Chairman, Adam Parr, will be leaving the team at the end of the week, on the back of the team’s best race result in the past 18 months.
He will be replaced by Nick Rose, former CFO of Diageo PLC, who will be promoted from the role of Non-Executive Director to Non-Executive Chairman.
Team founder Sir Frank Williams – who continues to hold a majority and controlling shareholding in the team – will continue to oversee the company, with support from partner and minority shareholder Charles ‘Toto’ Wolff, CEO Alex Burns and the rest of the Board.
“Over five years, Adam’s achievements have surpassed my expectations and I must thank him for his service,” team founder Sir Frank Williams said in the team’s media release.
“Not least for the decisive role he played in the technical changes made last year which are beginning to show through in the team’s improved competitiveness this season, and for leading this company to a successful IPO. Adam leaves us on good terms to pursue a better balance in his life for which I wish him and his family well. He has left us in good shape and I have every confidence that the Board and senior management team at Williams will continue to drive the business forward into a promising future.”
London-born Parr, a graduate of Eton College and Cambridge University, previously worked for Barclays BZW and Rio Tinto before he decided to obtain qualifications to practice public law.
He later returned to Rio Tinto with the task of improving the mining giant’s safety record, and his success saw him progressively promoted through the ranks to obtain the role of chief commercial officer of Rio Tinto Minerals.
He met Sir Frank Williams in the year 2000, and their continued friendship saw him obtain the role of Chief Executive Officer in late 2006, and he took over from Williams as the Chairman of Williams Grand Prix Engineering Limited in July 2010.
While it’s perhaps risky to infer a cause and effect relationship, his time at the team has coincided with the once-great outfit’s progressive dive in competitiveness. The team has been winless since the 2004 season (before Parr’s appointment), but subsequent years have seen the team lose a host of blue-chip sponsors, work through three different engine partners, and its results have continually suffered.
Team team made the decision to float itself on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange to get some capital investment, but it has lately been forced to take on well-sponsored drivers to cover for the reduction in the number of commercial partners.
Last year was the team’s worst in its history, and the outfit undertook a major reshuffle in its technical ranks, with Parr firing several key staff and relying on the resignations of others to allow for the chance to bring new blood in.
It had been widely suggested at the time that Parr – a very polarising figure in the paddock who was criticised by many because of his lack of motorsport experience – would be one such departure. But he remained on board, and Williams then came to promote Parr as his likely successor after he took the decision to step down from his position on the team’s board of directors.
With this year’s car proving much more competitive and on the back of Bruno Senna’s excellent drive to sixth place at yesterday’s Malaysian Grand Prix – a result that singlehandedly gave the team more championship points in one race than it had earned in an entire season last year – it seemed that the team’s prospects were heading in the right direction.
Which makes Parr’s departure all the more intriguing…
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