Williams' George Russell and Nicholas Latifi have reacted to the news of the Williams family's departure from F1, with both drivers paying a heartfelt tribute to their team's founder.
Claire Williams will step down from her role as deputy team principal after this weekend's Italian Grand Prix, while Sir Frank Williams will also relinquish all his responsibilities, a decision that marks the end of an era for Grand Prix racing and which follows the Grove-based outfit's acquisition last month by US investment firm Dorilton Capital.
"Obviously it’s a sad day for us," Russell said.
"For me personally, Frank and Claire gave me my first opportunity in Formula 1. It’s something I am very thankful and grateful for, and having the opportunity to drive for such an amazing and prestigious team for the two years I’ve been here so far.
"It’s sad to see the Williams family step aside, but the history of Williams will still remain. We’ll still remain under Williams Racing, and still continue to fight and represent the family name."
Latifi admitted to being surprised by today's new although the Canadian suggested the decision as perhaps a logical consequence of Williams' recent sale.
"I was definitely a bit shocked at the news this morning," Latifi said.
"I think when the news broke that the team was sold, it was definitely something in the back of my mind that I could have anticipated.
"For me, I haven’t done my first full season in Formula 1, but I’ve been with the team and part of the family since last year. For sure, it’s very special that like George said, Claire and Frank gave me my first opportunity to cut my teeth in Formula 1.
"It’s always going to be special that where I started out was here with Williams. They’ve given many drivers their first opportunity.
"The culture that has been cultivated here is going to remain the same. That is something that will not go just because Claire and the family are stepping aside."
Williams has yet to announce Claire Williams' successor at the helm of the team, but Russell is confident that whoever gets the job the team will continue to be steered in the right direction.
"For Claire and the Williams family, the team means a huge amount to them, more than it does to anyone else," Russell said.
"They would have not sold it to a company if they did not have faith that they have the team’s best interests at heart.
"I am definitely at ease with the situation, knowing that if Claire and the Williams family are happy with it, then they’re only doing it for the best interests of the team."
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