Formula 1 news: Ferrari brace for top-four clash, Williams exit with statement

4.29am BST

Extra: The former grand prix engineer Rob McClean has reported on live event radio that Williams were given a reference for team principal Frank Williams before Williams decided to exit the sport. According to McClean, the head of Williams’s technical department Darren King said Williams was the best possible man for the job and that Williams should speak to him. Williams said in the statement: “At every announcement I have made over the past six years I have taken into account the views of the experts at Williams and since I am moving on it was the same.”

So, the statement… Sir Frank Williams confirmed that he will leave his position as chief executive officer at Williams as he will quit the sport at the end of the year. Williams will stay as a non-executive director of the F1 team. The team principal said: “It’s a great honour to have been part of this team and I think we have delivered some great racing in the last 10 years and delivered some great results. “It’s certainly been a privilege to be a race driver’s team manager and to work with some of the best drivers in the world. And I feel the team has had an excellent challenge and the support of great owners.”

McLean and co-presenter Anna Stringer bring you all the updates from outside the glamorous surrounds of the Abu Dhabi Marina with former Lewis Hamilton pilot and now commentator Christian Horner

Graham Hunter, Channel 4 pundit

“I like Frank Williams, I like his track record, I like how he runs his business, the way he approaches people and in one way he’s quite a quiet, unassuming, laid-back kind of guy. Not so easy to take on board as some people. But he’s just absolutely magnificent.”

Michael Schumacher, 7 April 2011

Ben Edwards, Formula One analyst

“The biggest news is really probably behind the scenes with the news that Frank Williams is leaving Williams. The big story from the last couple of years was the idea of Daniel Ricciardo and Ricciardo and Verstappen becoming teammates because of the combination of their profiles. But then it didn’t really work because of technical challenges and we didn’t see it happen.”

Ben Edwards

“I think, if you’re the owner, it’s always good to see how it’s going. I know that Rob McClean – who is now in charge of F1 development at Williams – has been the head of the team for the last three or four years so there’s not much he hasn’t already got a good understanding of what’s happening with the team. It’s not just on the track, it’s the development as well.

“What you need to do when you come into an old team, and Frank had been with the team for a long time and was quite successful, is make sure you don’t lose all the staff and senior management people who have been part of it for a long time and then all of a sudden it goes flat. He’s just made some tough decisions and I think we should give him credit for them.”

What do you think to Williams moving on so soon? Would it help to have an experienced team manager to help turn things around?

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