The Grove squad announced the partnership with the American start-up company for the 2019 season, as a title sponsor. The initial deal was set for two years, and was shortly extended for a further two years, meaning it would run through until at least the 2023 campaign.
Williams sported ROKiT logos on their car for the last time at pre-season testing in 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic put the season on hold. During this period, Williams announced it would cut ties with ROKiT, losing its title sponsor and an estimated amount – in several instalments - of £3.5m to £5m.
This was critical for the team, which struggled badly for performance and funding in the 2019 F1 season, when they finished 10th in the constructors’ championship, with only one point to their name. At the time, the situation had even cast some doubt even on the team’s participation in the 2020 season, given Robert Kubica’s valuable ORLEN partnership money was also gone.
Williams can confirm it has terminated its sponsorship arrangements with ROKiT effective immediately. pic.twitter.com/f2vgYDyRi7— Williams Racing (@WilliamsRacing) May 29, 2020
As discovered by Law360.com and reported by RacingNews365.com, ROKiT claimed that Williams didn’t fulfil their part of the agreement as of January 1st in 2020, supposedly justifying ROKiT’s lack of payment for the Grove-based team, an allegation that judge Klaus Reichert SC rejected.
Williams then continued its pursuit for ROKiT to pay what they were due, at the Federal Court in Los Angeles, and eventually won at the London Court of International Arbitration tribunal.
The matter was complicated by the team’s financial situation mid-process, when they were put up for sale in May 2020, and were bought by the American group of investors Dorilton Capital.
The raw amount is reported to be $35.7m, of which $1m is a bonus payment promised to Williams by ROKiT’s co-founder, Jonathan Kendrick. Money deriving from a break clause is also included in the total sum of nearly $36 million.
According to RacingNews365.com, Williams have confirmed these legal iterations indeed happened as reported.