It has always been a matter of great pride for Sir Frank Williams and Patrick Head that they are in the F1 business first, second and last, with no secondary involvement in a peripheral business to cloud their commitment.
They don’t make road cars like Ferrari, McLaren or Lotus and although there have been intermittent additional programmes such as the Metro 6R4 rally project and BMW’s Le Mans winning sports car over the years, everything is subjugated in their own mind to their core business.
All of which makes the announcement last week that Williams are considering a stock market flotation to help guarantee the company’s financial future even more intriguing.
Given that an F1 team’s revenue streams comes mainly from two sources – sponsorship and the share of the sport’s commercial rights income provided for under the Concorde agreement – it will be fascinating to see just how many individuals and institutional investors decide that there is sufficient potential for profit in buying shares in Williams F1.
"For some years I have been considering how to secure the long-term ownership of Williams such that it will remain true to the aims with which Patrick and I established the team back in 1977," said Williams.
"My goal then was to race in Formula 1 as an independent constructor. This was and is my great passion and I will race for as long as I continue to be blessed with good health. It is also my desire that the team is in good shape to go on racing long after I am gone.
"To that end, it is prudent and necessary to plan for an ownership structure that will enable Williams to be an independent Constructor, owned and staffed by people committed to Formula 1 and to the sound business practices which have supported us over three decades.
"I have concluded that the option which will best achieve this is to broaden our shareholder base with public shareholders, while having a stable core of long-term investors closely involved in the running of the team. This will ensure stability, good governance and will, I believe, enable us to attract and retain the best people and partners.
"We are therefore examining this option closely and, if the environment is propitious, we may act in the near future."
The bottom line, I suspect, is that any potential success derived from a public flotation of Williams says as much about the potential deal that can be cut to guarantee and enhance commercial income streams under the new Concorde agreement, which is due to start in 2013. As what might be described as an ‘Ecclestone loyalist,’ Frank Williams may have read the commercial road ahead better than most as he strives to maintain his independence.