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.