6 candidates to replace Jost Capito at Williams F1

The shake-ups continue in the world of Formula One.

At the end of November, Mattia Binotto handed in his resignation as the Team Principal of Scuderia Ferrari, drawing to a close his time with the venerable racing institution. Now, another pillar of the F1 world is looking for a new Team Principal, as Jost Capito announced he was stepping down from his role with Williams Racing.

Capito cut his mark in the World Rally Championship, serving as the Director of Motorsport for Volkswagen. During his time in that role, he guided Volkswagen to three Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships.

Capito moved to the F1 world in 2016, serving as the CEO of McLaren Racing for a season. But after just four months in that role, Capito was out as part of a shake-up at McLaren.

He returned to Volkswagen, and served as the head of their performance division, before being enticed to return to F1 by Williams in 2020. At that time new owners at Williams Dorilton Capital . He began as the CEO, but took on the title of Team Principal in 2021.

In making the announcement, Williams thanked Capito for his work with the team. Dorilton Capital Chairman Matthew Savage Team Principal: “We would like to thank Jost for his hard work and dedication as we embarked on a major transformation process to begin the journey of reviving Williams Racing. We’re grateful that Jost postponed his planned retirement to take on this challenge and now he will pass the reins on for the next part of this staged process.”

Also departing is Technical Director F.X. Demaison, who came over to Williams from Volkswagen along with Capito back in 2020. Demaison was a likely replacement for Capito at Williams, but now the team will need to look elsewhere.

Here are some potential candidates for Williams to consider, starting with internal options.

Sven Smeets

Sporting Director
Williams Racing

Smeets began his career in motorsports in rally racing, as a co-driver and navigator for Freddy Loix back in 1995. Over decade later, Smeets moved from inside the car to management, becoming a Team Manager for Citroën. During his time in that role, the team secured multiple Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ Championships.

Smeets moved to Volkswagen in 2012, joining the team as their Team Manager under Capito. Along with Capito, Smeets helped deliver a string of victories for Volkswagen in the World Rally Championships, as they brought home Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ Championships in 2014, 2015 and 2016. He was promoted to Motorsport Director in 2016, and served in that role for five years.

Smeets joined his former boss at Williams at the start of 2021, coming aboard as the team’s Sporting Director. In this capacity he deals with FIA, but also oversees Williams’ driver academy.

His prior experience as a Team Manager, coupled with how he worked with FIA in his capacity as Sporting Director, could make him an ideal fit as Team Principal for Williams.

Jenson Button

Heritage Driver
Williams Racing

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This could be a big leap for Button, who began his F1 racing career with Williams. After almost two decades on the grid, he retired from driving in F1 after the 2017 season.

Button joined Williams as a senior advisor for the 2021 season, and signed a multi-year deal. In his role with the team, Button works with the team’s drivers, as well as the drivers in the Williams Racing Academy. He is also responsible for JBXE, the all-electric SUV off-road racing series Extreme E from the 2021 season.

Why might Button be in the mix? The driver himself did not rule out a future as a Team Principal. On an “Ask Me Anything” video put out by Williams, Button opened the door to such a role in the future. “Team principal? It looks like a tough job. Yes, lots of arguing with other team principals, but who knows what the future holds? I feel too young at the moment, there’s a lot of other stuff I’d like to do but, yeah, maybe one day.”

But his experience on the grid, as well as his work with the drivers, could make him a fit.

Jody Egginton

Technical Director
AlphaTauri Racing

If Williams wants to look outside the building for a new Team Principal, there are some options with other teams. First is Jody Egginton, currently the Technical Director with AlphaTauri Racing. Egginton began his career in motorsports back in 1996 as a Junior Designer with the Tyrell F1 team.

Egginton then joined Xtrac, working for five years as a Gearbox Design Engineer, before returning to the F1 world with Force India as a Race Engineer. He then spent four years with the newly-formed Caterham F1 Team, first as a Chief Engineer, and then as the Operations Director.

Egginton moved again in 2014 to Scuderia Toro Rossi. He served as the team’s Head of Vehicle Performance from 2014 to 2017, and then as their Deputy Technical Director. He moved into the Technical Director role for the 2019 season, and has been there ever since, including during Toro Rossi’s rebrand to AlphaTauri.

Technical directors often find themselves moved up to Team Principals. For example, Mattia Binotto began his career in the engine department before becoming the Chief Technical Officer at Scuderia Ferrari. He then moved into the role as Team Principal.

Egginton also has ties to England, having grown up on Coventry. His ties to England could play a role in enticing him to the Williams fold.

Now, let’s think outside the box a little bit, starting with a name just mentioned.

Mattia Binotto

Outgoing Team Principal
Scuderia Ferrari

F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi - Final Practice

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Could Binotto slide into a role with Williams after departing Ferrari?

According to reports out of Italian media, four teams have already approached Binotto about a role with their organizations. Two of those have been identified as Alpine and Aston Martin, with a third being described as a “contender.”

However, those reports surfaced before the news of Capito’s departure at Williams. Could Williams now get into the Binotto sweepstakes? Or were they perhaps the fourth team already in the works, in advance of Capito’s departure?

While Binotto did not deliver glory to Scuderia Ferrari, the team did finish in the top three in three of his four seasons at the helm, including a pair of second-place finishes in 2019 and 2022.

Cyril Abiteboul
Former Managing Director
Renault Racing

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Another former Team Principal could be in the mix at Williams, and that is Cyril Abiteboul, who was once the Managing Director at Renault Racing. Abiteboul began his F1 career at Renault back in 2001, working his way through the ranks to become the Executive Director of Renault Sport F1 in 2010.

Abiteboul left that position to become the Team Principal for Caterham F1, and served in that role for two seasons. He then returned to Renault in 2014, serving as the team’s Managing Director.

When Renault rebranded as Alpine in 2021, Renault was out as the Managing Director. Since leaving Renault, Abiteboul has worked as the Motorsport Advisor for Mecachrome, the engine supplier for Formula 2.

In recent days, it has been reported that Abiteboul was in line to become the Team Principal at Hyundai Motorsport. Hyundai currently competes in rally racing, but there is speculation that Hyundai could be eying a move to F1.

Something that might pair well with Abiteboul’s F1 experience.

But given that that move has not been confirmed, perhaps there is an open door for Abiteboul to return to F1 sooner rather than later.

Susie Wolff

Outgoing Team Principal
Venturi Racing

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Susie Wolff began her racing career in karting, before progressing to Formula Renault and then Formula Three. In 2012, she joined F1 as a developmental driver.

For Williams.

She made F1 history during the 2014 season. At the 2014 British Grand Prix she participated in a practice session, the first female driver to participate in a F1 weekend in 22 years. While her car suffered mechanical failure after just four laps, she fared better later that season at the German Grand Prix. where she placed 15th during a practice session, out of 22 cars.

During the British Grand Prix the following season, Wolff posted a lap time of 1:37.242 during practice, placing 13th during the session.

Wolff retired from racing after the 2015 season, and moved into an ambassador’s role with Mercedes. She was one of the test drivers for the Mercedes-AMG One hypercar.

She joined Venturi Racing in Formule E for the 2018 season, as their Team Principal. She helped guide the team to their best finish back during the 2020-2021 season, as Venturi placed seventh in Formula E, with 146 points. Driver Edoardo Mortara finished second in the Drivers’ Championship that season.

When Venturi announced plans to merge with Maserati, Wolff announced her time with the team was coming to a close:

She has experience on the grid. She has experience as a Team Principal. She has experience with Williams.

This could be an ideal fit.

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