F1 news: Williams win £26m lawsuit against former sponsors in boost ahead of new season

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Williams Formula One team has received a huge boost ahead of the new season after winning 26 million pounds (35.7 million dollars) in arbitration after their former title sponsor ROKiT abandoned a two multi-year sponsorship deals. After extending a deal in 2019, ROKiT were meant to remain Williams’ title sponsor until at least the end of the 2023 season in Formula One.

The telecommunications company was initially announced as a sponsor on a three-year contract, yet prior to the delayed start of the 2020 season, which saw the COVID-19 pandemic sweep through the world, it was announced Williams and ROKiT had parted ways.

As reported by Motorsportweek.com, The London Court of International Arbitration tribunal had ordered ROKiT to pay the Oxford-based team “roughly £26.2m in missed payments, as well as a $1m in bonus payment.”

As part of the title sponsorship agreement, ROKiT stated that they would pay Williams in instalments of between £3.5m to £5m.

However, no payments were made, and Williams filed another lawsuit, this time in the United States.

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Initially, ROKiT owner Johnathan Kendrick reportedly said he would pay $1m by March 2020, with an employee from the company later sending a document to Williams to transfer the $24.4m that was owed to them at the time.

Williams at the time were in their own financial issues, and later in 2019 the family-run business was brought out by US investment firm Dorilton Capital and came under new ownership.

The report adds that ROKiT claimed Williams had not “fulfilled its obligations under the deal after January 1, 2020.” with the argument rejected by arbitrator Klaus Reichert SC when the case then went to a federal court hearing in the United States.

The Williams team can now concentrate on their 2022 campaign, despite the loss of George Russell, who has made the step up to partner Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes.

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Canadian Nicholas Latifi will instead be alongside Alex Albon, after the British-Thai driver got a second shot in the championship, after a tough stint at Red Bull.

Williams boss Jost Capito said: “It is fantastic to be able to confirm our driver line-up for 2022 and I am delighted to be welcoming Alex to the team, along with confirming our continued relationship with Nicholas into next year.

“We are extremely excited by our new line-up, with both drivers bringing a great blend of youth and experience that will not only be a great fit for the team but also help the team take the next step in our journey.

“Alex is one of the most exciting young talents in motorsport, yet comes with a large amount of F1 experience from his time at Red Bull.

“His multiple podium finishes highlight his speed as a driver, and we know he will immediately feel at home with the team at Grove.”

Formula One is set to return for pre-season testing on February 23 before the opening race at Bahrain Grand Prix on March 20.

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