F1`s Williams drives back into the black

London: Formula One team Williams returned to profit last year, despite a poor season on the track for the former world champions, helped by a one-off payment from outgoing sponsor PDVSA.

State-owned Venezuelan oil company PDVSA paid out for an early termination of its sponsorship deal when driver Pastor Maldonado left Williams for Lotus at the end of last season.

That payment helped Williams, the only Formula One team with a stock market listing, to increase revenues to 132 million pounds ($223 million) in 2013, from 106 million the previous year.

The group, which is developing an engineering business to commercialize its racing technology, reported an operating profit of 12 million pounds, a turnaround after having lost five million in 2012.

The return to profit will fuel the sense of optimism at Williams, who have a new title sponsor in Italian drinks company Martini and have shown better form on the track.

"We have started the 2014 Formula One season well and hope we can continue to improve our performance," said team founder and principal Frank Williams.

"We made good progress commercially through the winter months and Williams continues to attract an enthusiastic and very loyal group of partners and fans."

Williams have already scored 36 points after four races this season, having managed only five in the whole of last season.

The group confirmed it had closed a technology centre it had set up in Qatar where it employed around 30 people. The work and some of the staff have been moved back to its headquarters in Oxfordshire, part of what is known as "Motor Sport Valley" in the heart of England.