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today is May 30, 2023

The ongoing legal between Williams and Rokit has taken another turn as the team’s former sponsor has brought a case to court demanding $149 million (£119m) in damages.

Rokit alleges Williams gave them assurances they had produced a competitive car for the upcoming season when they agreed a title sponsorship deal for 2019. It claims its reputation was damaged when the team subsequently endured an uncompetitive season in which it finished last in the championship.

The brand, which now backs teams in other racing series, names Williams and members of its former management as defendants in its case, lodged at the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. They include former deputy team principal Claire Williams, who is the daughter of team founder Sir Frank Williams, as well as Mike O’Driscoll and Doug Lafferty, who were the group CEO and chief financial officer respectively.

Robert Kubica, Williams, Red Bull Ring, 2019 Williams scored just one point in 2019 Rokit claim its representatives were told by the team “on or about January 18, 2019 at Williams Engineering headquarters in Grove” that their new car “had industry leading performance capabilities including a Mercedes-Benz engine and would have excellent chances to be competitive, would place in the upper side of the leaderboard, and would not be slower than the 2018 Williams F1 car.” The team also told them it had hired Paddy Lowe from reigning champions Mercedes to aid their development.

However Rokit claims Williams did not have the funds to develop a competitive car. It claims the defendants “intentionally and fraudulently concealed the fact that Williams Engineering simply did not have enough money to develop the F1 car which would be subject to the Sponsorship Agreements to an industry leading standard, and therefore Defendants knew that the F1 car which would be subject to the Sponsorship Agreements had no chance to be competitive, or at the least place in the upper side of the leaderboard, and actively concealed this fact from the Plaintiffs’ subsidiaries ROK and RMI.”

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Rokit argue they have “suffered significant financial loss and damage to their goodwill and business reputation” as a result of Williams’ actions. They are seeking “an amount in excess of $149,528,550 dollars or in an amount to be determined at by a jury at trial” in damages.

In a statement supplied to RaceFans, Williams said it is “aware of this spurious claim.”

“Having successfully won an arbitration against Rokit in the UK and successfully petitioning for the arbitral award to be confirmed by a federal court in the United States, Williams continues to trust in the court processes in regard to this unfortunate matter,” it added.

After the team raced in Rokit’s branding throughout 2019, Williams launched its car for the following season carrying their logos again. However the start of the season was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and during the hiatus the split between the two parties became public knowledge.

Williams announced it had terminated their sponsorship agreement in May 2020. The team was also put up for sale around the same time and was later acquired by Dorilton Capital.

Williams took legal action against Rokit over what it claimed were unpaid sponsorship fees. Last year the District Court of the Central District of California ordered Rokit to pay Williams £26.2 million.

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