By Alan Baldwin
LONDON (Reuters) - The Williams Formula One team laid out their succession plans on Wednesday by appointing Claire Williams as deputy principal to her father Frank.
The former world champions said in a statement that Williams, 36, would work with the 70-year-old team founder, who remains at the helm, in a 'pivotal role' in the day to day running and long-term development of the business.
"The position will strengthen the future of the team and create a clear succession path for Williams," the statement added.
Williams said they had planned to make the announcement before the start of the season in Australia on March 17 but decided to delay it after the death of her mother Virginia earlier this month.
"Her knowledge of the sport and passion for the team is unquestionable and I'm proud to say that during her time here she has proven herself to be one of our most valuable assets," Frank Williams said of his daughter.
"With Claire being appointed Deputy Team Principal, I know the future of Williams is in extremely safe hands.
"This appointment also had Ginny's blessing who I know would have been incredibly proud to have seen Claire taking on this position by my side," added the Briton, who has been confined to a wheelchair since breaking his neck in a car accident in 1986.
Claire Williams has been director of marketing and communications for the past year, responsible also for developing the team's commercial strategy and generating new revenue, after starting as a press officer in 2002.
The team said she would start her newly created role with immediate effect while retaining the position of commercial director.
If she does eventually take over from her father as team principal, Williams will not be the first woman to run a Formula One outfit. Swiss-based Sauber already have Monisha Kaltenborn as principal.
Williams, who will effectively be running the team at those races the principal does not attend, looked forward to working more closely with her father after growing up in the sport.
"I feel well equipped for this new challenge. I understand the commitment that every person within the team gives each day to see our car out on the track and I am determined to see us back at the top," she said.
"I don't underestimate the challenges that lie ahead but I have the full support of the Board and a very talented Executive Committee... it will be a privilege to play a part in taking the team into what I hope will be a successful next chapter."
Williams, winners of nine constructors' and seven drivers' world championships between 1980 and 1997, have yet to score a point in two races this season with Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado and Finnish rookie Valtteri Bottas.
The team finished eighth overall in 2012.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by John O'Brien)