Formula 1 | Deserter title sponsor ROKiT to pay Williams F1 35 million

In 2019, Williams announced the signing of a new title sponsor, telecommunications firm ROKit. But 2019 was also the worst season in Williams ‘history, with a missed start to winter testing and a last place, without any points, in the constructors’ standings.

The original contract was for two years (with an extension in mid-2019 until 2023) and yet, in May 2020, ROKiT loudly announced his departure from the Grove team, breaking his lease. The Covid pandemic and Williams’ low competitiveness had shortened the short life of this partnership.

It was a real blow, and even a coup de grace for Williams, who was already facing heavy losses in 2019. The pandemic and the departure of Rokit had then led Claire Williams to put the team up for sale.

Rokit’s departure in May 2020 was thus a turning point, as Claire Williams confirmed in September 2020 at the time of the Grove sale: “We had exhausted all the possibilities available to us. I thought, arriving this year, that we had taken a turn. We had new title partners, who promised a lot. Then it collapsed, and the coronavirus hit. It was the end of the game. There was no going back. If these two things had not happened, we would have been saved. When the sponsors collapsed and the coronavirus hit, the game was over. There was no going back. They [Dorilton] are going to want full control. It was the inevitable conclusion. « 

Williams finally wins … and not just a little

But ROKiT, by breaking a contract that ran until 2023, exposed itself to heavy penalties. Williams logically sued the blue firm.

However, in a very recent federal judicial arbitration in the United States, the conciliator of justice rejected the arguments of the firm, which argued that it had not paid Williams because the F1 team would not have fulfilled its « obligations » in January 1, 2020.

It was however estimated by the federal justice that ROKiT had « Unmistakably promised » full payments to the team, without reservation or condition, until the end of the contract in 2023.

Williams estimates that she should have received almost £ 26million in payment if the contract had been honored, and 1million in bonuses. For the record, the team would have obtained around 14 million pounds for the first year of the deal in 2019. In 2020, ROKiT still promised to settle the remaining millions, ensuring that bank transfers were in progress, without follow-up.

All of these arguments were rejected by federal arbitration, which also believes that the arrival of Dorilton Capital does not change the damage suffered by Williams.

So it’s a total victory for Williams, and California federal arbitration has ordered ROKiT to pay Williams about £ 26million ($ 35.7million) in restitution.

If the ROKiT affair does end there, the Grove team would thus gain a small jackpot, which would be very useful for the new regulatory era. But without that prejudice, the team might still be in the hands of the Williams family.

« We are delighted to announce the extension of our partnership with ROKiT » Claire Williams said again in mid-2019, during the two-year extension of ROKiT. “As I said in February, it’s a natural alliance based on the shared value of innovation, engineering excellence, and trust. ROKiT joined the team at a difficult time and it’s important for us to see that they believe in our vision and are involved in making it happen. I have enjoyed working with the ROKiT team and look forward to continuing for the next five years. « 

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