In today’s final account of Motorlat’s exclusive interview with Williams Racing Team Principal, Jost Capito, from earlier this month, the man leading Williams’ resurgence discussed lessons learned from the past. As well as this, he reflected on what F1 will lose when Sebastian Vettel retires at the end of the season as well as recalling the personality of two legendary motorsport champions - Kimi Räikkönen and Sébastien Ogier.
Jost Capito was instrumental in bringing Kimi Raikkonen into Formula One in 2001 with Sauber. Meanwhile, in his rallying days, Capito worked closely with WRC World Champion Sébastien Ogier. With Capito at the Volkswagen Motorsport helm, Ogier won three of his eight titles. Consequently, during discussion with Jost Capito held over the weekend of the Dutch Grand Prix, Motorlat asked if there were any similar character traits which Ogier and Räikkönen demonstrated.
“Well, they are different but also they have, I think, quite a lot - but not a lot - but maybe some very important things in common as I think about it. I think first it's the full dedication.” Before Capito corrected himself to say,‘First is the talent. I think that both were extremely talented in driving cars there is no doubt about that, and this is a gift they had but then still working very hard and being absolutely focused and being dedicated. What they wanted was to be World Champion, nothing else counted and they gave everything for this.”
Having spoken previously in the conversation with Motorlat about a team and driver having the correct culture, Jost Capito went on to state that Ogier and Räikkönen ‘were both very pushy so they were capable of bringing the team behind them. Getting support of the entire team but never stopping pushing. Requesting improvement and yeah - being quite hard and dedicated on this. I think those are the common characters they have.”
Another legendary motorsport figure able to motivate a team to get behind him is four-time F1 Drivers’ World champion Sebastian Vettel. A man with a clear affection for Williams, the team which he made his F1 testing debut with as an 18-year-old in Jerez back in September 2005. Vettel’s affection for Williams is such that he owns Nigel Mansell’s legendary FW14B which he recently took for a spin around Silverstone at this year’s British Grand Prix. There is no doubt that Vettel will be missed when he leaves F1 and Jost Capito paid tribute to the much-loved racer while also indicating that the future of F1 is bright.
“it's always very difficult when a driver leaves. There's always a gap filled as well so if somebody leaves who has that much success, of course, it's a driver then that has a lot of influence and has a lot of knowledge and has also the confidence to speak out. Sebastian is brilliant on this, and he sees that the world is bigger than Formula One and I think if young guys get in Formula One it's their only one world and this is Formula One and Sebastian, during his development, he has seen that there is also other important things in the world than beside Formula One and he fights for that and pushes for that - and that was part of his decision as I say.
“But I think there are enough new talents, there are great drivers in Formula One and I believe the sport is bigger than any driver, any team principal or any team. The sport is the biggest and somebody like Sebastian will be missed but the gap will be filled.” Capito stated.
Meanwhile, another former F1 Drivers’ World Champion, Jenson Button, is currently a senior advisor for Williams fulfilling what Jost Capito describes as ‘a pure marketing role’.
“He's attending events, he's holding speeches. He had speeches, Q&As with me but it's a pure marketing and ambassador role and he's fantastic in this! And I know him from my times at McLaren and that even it was a short stint, but we got each other to know very well and appreciate each other and also through our common let's say our common enthusiasm for rallycross. I think we speak more about rallycross than we speak about Formula One.” Capito claimed.
The two men would certainly have much to discuss from Capito’s rallycross days. None more so than the hat-trick of drivers' and manufacturers' titles in the FIA World Rally Championship as Volkswagen Motorsport director. Whereas further success in motorsport can be found for Capito from when he brought Sauber from 8th to 4th in the F1 Constructors’ Championship in just a couple of years. Therefore, Motorlat asked whether he had been able to use a similar blueprint to the Williams project.
“It's not just from there.” Capito replied “I think it was great times at Sauber and we had to do that without improving the budget, so the times were a bit different there, but the basics are very much the same. And I would say it was not just the Sauber days where I learned, you know then, it was after that it was the Ford days, it was the Volkswagen days, and they were all different so with all these - with the combination of all that - I think that forged me to do what I'm doing at Williams now and I hope it will be good enough.” Signing off in such a manner indicates just what the challenge at Williams Racing means to Jost Capito. The road ahead is a long one, but Capito is not a man to shy away from a challenge and has a rich pedigree of success.
When Jost Capito left his position as Volkswagen Motorsport director back in 2016, Frank Welsch, Volkswagen passenger cars management board member stated the three WRC titles as "the greatest sporting achievements in the history of the Volkswagen brand…with his transparent and far-sighted leadership, Jost Capito has been instrumental in this success.” Should Jost Capito mastermind Williams’ return back to the front over the coming years, it is fair to say that would be one of the greatest sporting achievements in the history of the Williams brand.