Smartphone app hackers thwart Williams F1 team’s innovative car launch for 2021 season

Williams F1 hackers launch
Rudy Carezzevoli - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images
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OXFORDSHIRE, England — F1 team Williams scrapped an “augmented reality” launch of its new car Friday after hackers interfered with the unveiling on its smartphone app.

The British team, under new American ownership, instead planned to unveil its car with a more traditional launch later in the day.

“Williams Racing planned to reveal its 2021 challenger, the FW43B, via an augmented reality app later today,” it said in a statement. “However, sadly, because the app was hacked prior to launch, this will no longer be possible. We have subsequently removed the app from both the Apple App Store and Android Google Play store.”

The team had hoped to let fans experience an innovative launch “during this difficult time when being able to bring in-person experiences directly to our fans is sadly not possible. We can only apologize that this has not been possible.”

Williams hopes to revive its fortunes under new ownership. In August, it was bought by American-based investment firm Dorilton Capital. The team finished rock bottom in the constructors’ standings in the past two seasons, scoring only one point from Robert Kubica’s 10th-place finish in 2019.

The season-opening GP in Bahrain is on March 28.

The team was co-founded by Frank Williams, her father, and won seven drivers’ championships and nine constructors’ titles since entering the sport in 1977. However, the last of those came with Jacques Villeneuve behind the wheel in 1997.

Storied names have driven for the team, including multiple world champions Alain Prost, Nelson Piquet and Ayrton Senna. British world champions Nigel Mansell and Damon Hill helped the team become hugely popular with home fans.

Williams has won 114 races, taken 128 pole positions and is the third-longest standing team in the history of the series.