Sheridan Thynne 1939 – 2011

© Sutton Motorsport Images
Sheridan Thynne, for a long time the commercial director of Williams F1, has died at the age of 71.

A member of the aristocratic dynasty of the Marquis of Bath, Thynne grew up in very comfortable circumstances. His passion for motorsport began in 1949 when Lord Selsdon, the father of one of Sheridan’s school friends, won the Le Mans 24 Hours in a Ferrari. Thynne went on to study at Eton College and then did his National Service as a Lieutenant in the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry – a family tradition. He then moved into stockbroking, while spending his free time racing touring cars in club events in Britain.

He first met Frank Williams in 1962, but it was not until 1979 that he was asked by Williams to use his business connections to raise sponsorship for the team. Thynne was the commercial boss of the team for the next 13 years, doing deals with companies such as British Leyland, ICI, Mobil, Canon and many others. He also did many of the negotiations with drivers. Along the way he helped to develop the concept of the Paddock Club, by providing ICI corporate guests with hospitality that triggered the idea of a VIP service for sponsors.

Thynne was particularly close to Nigel Mansell, who drove for the team from 1985-1988 and then again from 1991-1992. When Williams decided to drop Mansell at the end of his World Championship year, Thynne sided with Mansell and parted ways with Williams and began working with Mansell.

He is survived by his wife Eve and four children: Louise, Marika, Tamara and Piers, the last-named who works for McLaren, in addition to nine grandchildren.

10 thoughts on “Sheridan Thynne 1939 – 2011

  1. RIP. There was a feature on Sheridan Thynne in the first F1 magazine I ever purchased, in the winter of 1989. I remember sitting in my study (at Haileybury, actually), reading the mag from cover to cover, but being particularly fascinated by that article. F1 Commercial Director! I had no idea that such jobs existed — and here was the one at my favourite team. I seem to recall that I got halfway through a letter to him asking how I could do that job one day, before giving it up as a lost cause and returning to doing a slipshod job on my history prep, or whatever it was.

  2. Devastating news i remember reading about him in Nigel Mansells autobiography he came across as a guy with morals – leaving Williams when Mansell left in 92. Thoughts go to his family at this time.

  3. I remember the era Joe but not the man, good for him if he sided with our Noige I know that a lot of us felt that Frank did not play fair back then.
    Sad that we live in a time when many greats who gave their personalities to the sport are passing away.
    Some of us have been fortunate to meet a few of those who made their mark in the course of our work. Joe must know most.

  4. Sheridan’s name will forever be etched on my memory from the very first F1 VHS I was bought as a child – Mansell and Williams 1992. Narrated by Murray Walker, Thynne was mentioned as one of the key people in the Williams lineup at the time along with Patrick Head, David Brown and Peter Windsor. As Paul said, I remember Nigel talking about him fondly in his autobiography too.

    All good wishes to his family.

  5. A truly good man and an enthusiast he was seen on the hills as we say helping Piers w the Dallara Hillclimb and sprint car as well as many others a sad time for the Family and all that knew him true gentleman

  6. Sure is sad news…… lose both Sheridan & Charlie Moody in the same month is very sad indeed as they were both the “gentle” gents in the cut throat world of F1 ……I had the pleasure of working with Sheridan when I worked at Williams and have very fond memories of him. My thoughts are with Eve and the children as he will be an impossible act to follow! Darsi

  7. Very sad to hear the passing of Sheridan, I first met him at London College of Printing
    in about 1961, when he was racing his 850 mini at places like Nurburgring and Spa, so when he came and worked at Press Etching were i was a junior apprentice and mad on motor racing i was over the moon! , He was such a nice man, he would tell me storiies about Piers Courage Frank Williams ect, who i believe he went to school with, He married when he was there and he left soon after, but i came into contact with him at Silverstone a few times in later years. He would write a letters to Autosport on a subject that he felt strongly about, he was very passionate about his motorsport. I never met his family, but i send them my condolences, for he was a true gentleman, and an end of an era.
    My kindest Regards Bill Mallett.

  8. I first met Sheridan about 15 years ago when he became interested in helping us send aid to West Africa. I well remember him and his wife Eve helping make endless inventories as we went about packing and labelling items for the Vocational Training School that Phil Cheale, the local minister, had set up amidst the civil war torn country of Liberia. He also showed my wife and I great kindness when I was diagnosed with cancer three years ago and took the trouble of coming down to visit us several times here in Mudeford. Never a man to speak of himself but full of wry whit, wisdom and kindness. It is only now as I read the above I realise how little I really knew of the man and count it a privilege to have known him as a friend.

  9. I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Sheridan at Monza 1983, after winning a DENIM competition (they were a Williams sponsor back then, of course). He was the perfect host and, realising that the competition winner was actually a rabid F1 enthusiast, went out of his way to ensure that I had a weekend I will never forget, giving me access to Sir Frank, the drivers and the F1 paddock etc.

    He also followed this courtesy up when I returned to England and was so, so kind.

    I have just learned of his sad passing and pass by condolences to his family and those who knew him best.

    I will never forget Sheridan.

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