WILLIAMS HOPING FOR BETTER DAYS: Williams' driver Valtteri Bottas of Finland gets ready to take his car through its paces. Image: AP / Andy Wong
LONDON, England - The Williams Formula 1 team lost the equivalent of R770-million in 2014 but says it expects a significant improvement once it is over the lingering "hangover" of failure.
Chief executive Mike O'Driscoll said: "What we are reporting now is essentially a hangover."
The team's loss, with turnover of R1.3-billion, compared to a profit of R220-million and turnover of R1.9-billion in 2013.
Frankfurt-listed Williams Grand Prix Holdings said the group as a whole reported turnover of R1.6-billion in 2014 with a loss of R623-million, compared to R2.3-billion and profit of R220-million in 2013.
O'Driscoll said the 2013 figures had been inflated by a R336-million settlement from departing Venezuelan sponsor PDVSA that covered 2014 but had to be recognised in the previous year's accounts.
The 2014 figures also included bonus payments of R55-million for each of the group's 660 employees as a result of the team finishing third overall in 2014 while engine costs doubled with the debut of the hybrid "power unit".
Former champion team Williams, third after four races so far in 2015, reversed a "decade of decline" in 2014 after the nadir of ninth overall in 2013.
Revenues from the commercial-rights holder are paid a year in arrears, however, meaning the 2014 figures reflect the previous year's dismal showing and reduced sponsorship income.
O'Driscoll said Williams had pressed the reset button in 2013 with a change of key personnel and a decision to get rid of non-core businesses and develop advanced engineering.
"2014 was at first glance was disappointing but really it was exactly what we anticipated. We're on track," he added.
"We expect 2015 to be materially, significantly, better than 2014. We're going to see higher commercial rights revenue flow through, in fact we are starting to see that flow through now... and we're starting to see higher revenue flow through from more sponsorship ."
Williams can also expect a 60% increase in revenue from F1's commercial rights holder to boost its 2015 figures.
2014 Manufacturers' champion Mercedes, which provides engines to Williams, Ferrari and Red Bull, operates on significantly larger budgets - at least double - than Williams but deputy principal Claire Williams said the team could hold its own.
"We have to work harder and smarter," she said.
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