Williams have won a legal battle with their former title sponsor after it was found the team was not paid the money they were contractually owed.
ROKiT, a telecommunications company, became the Williams team’s title sponsor at the beginning of the 2019 season, with the British outfit in dire straits financially.
The team finished tenth and last in the Constructors’ Championship that year, with returning Polish driver Robert Kubica scoring their only point at the German Grand Prix.
Despite their struggles, ROKiT and Williams agreed an extension to their partnership until the end of 2023 midway through the 2019 season.
The sponsor’s logos appeared prominently on the car during winter testing in 2020, but the world of Formula 1 was left surprised when the two parties suddenly announced that they had ended their partnership.
ROKiT claimed that they had withheld payments from Williams because the team failed to fulfil their end of the contractual agreement.
Klaus Reichert SC, the arbitrator in charge of the case, dismissed this argument on the basis that ROKiT had previously promised Williams in no uncertain terms that they would be paying the team in full.
Specifically, Reichert said that the former sponsor had been “unambiguously promising” the funds.
Late on in 2019, Williams are reported to have asked ROKiT for the $1 million that they had been promised, and the company’s owner Jonathan Kendrick told them that he would pay in March the following year.
It was then found that an employee at ROKiT had sent Williams a document indicating a payment of $24.4 million, making it enforceable.
Williams were then bought by Dorilton Capital in 2020; this was the first time since the team’s inception in 1977 that they were outside the control of the Williams family.
Reichert agreed that this had no bearing on the case, and has ordered ROKiT to pay Williams $35.7 million.
This upheld a ruling in a London court last year which had awarded Williams £26.2 million.