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Williams report increased revenues despite dismal F1 season

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By Reuters
Williams report increased revenues despite dismal F1 season
FILE PHOTO: Formula One F1 - Australian Grand Prix - Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Melbourne, Australia - March 15, 2019 Williams' Robert Kubica in action during practice REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo   -   Copyright  Edgar Su(Reuters)

By Alan Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) – The Williams Formula One team reported increased revenues in 2018, helped by an unspecified one-off item, despite enduring one of their worst seasons on the track.

The British-based team, the third most successful in the sport’s history in terms of wins, said on Friday that financial performance had improved across both Formula One and Williams Advanced Engineering.

Group revenue increased to 176.5 million pounds, from a previous 166.2 million. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were 12.9 million, up from 10.8 in 2017.

The Formula One business generated revenue of 130.7 million pounds, compared to a previous 125.6 million, with EBITDA unchanged at 16 million.

Williams said the one-off item was non-recurring but gave no details.

They have an all-new line-up this season with Mercedes-backed British rookie George Russell and Poland’s Robert Kubica replacing Canadian Lance Stroll and Russian Sergey Sirotkin.

Stroll has joined Racing Point, the former Force India team now controlled by his billionaire father Lawrence, and taken a number of sponsors with him.

Williams, who have not won a race since 2012 and whose last title was in 1997, finished last overall in 2018 with just seven points from 21 races.

Third overall as recently as 2015, they have yet to score a point in 2019 with a car that is again off the pace.

“Unfortunately, we struggled to maintain the pace of technical development and endured a difficult season,” said Group Chief Executive Mike O’Driscoll.

“There is a very large gap in competitive expenditure between the leading teams and the rest of the grid,” he added.

“But we are increasingly hopeful that Liberty Media’s long-term vision and plans for the future of the sport can deliver a more level playing field on which all teams can compete fairly.”

Formula One’s U.S.-based owners Liberty Media are discussing a shake-up of the sport from 2021 with a cost cap and redistribution of revenues among the proposals.

Leading teams like champions Mercedes and Ferrari operate on annual budgets well in excess of $200 million.

O’Driscoll said the arrival of ROKiT as new title sponsor, replacing departed Martini, had demonstrated the continued strength of the Williams brand.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis)