By Alan Baldwin
LONDON (Reuters) - Former world champions Williams expressed optimism for Formula One's future under the sport's new owners Liberty Media after the team reported a profit and increased revenues for 2016 on Wednesday.
The British-based team, who last won a race in 2012, finished fifth last year after ending the previous two seasons in third place overall.
Williams said group revenue had increased from 125.6 million pounds ($156.25 million) in 2015 to 167.4 million last year. The Formula One side accounted for 116.7 million, compared to a previous 101.5 million.
Group earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) improved from a loss of 3.3 million in 2015 to a profit of 15.5 million.
Income from the sport's commercial rights holder is paid a year in arrears.
"Our team continues to attract support from some of the world's leading companies and brands, and we are very optimistic about the overall potential for the sport, under Liberty Media's stewardship," commented chief executive Mike O'Driscoll.
U.S.-based Liberty took control in January, replacing CVC Capital Partners as commercial rights holders and appointing Chase Carey to run the business instead of 86-year-old Briton Bernie Ecclestone.
Formula One teams currently have individual deals with the commercial rights holder that expire in 2020.
Ferrari, Mercedes, McLaren and Red Bull receive tens of millions of dollars to reflect past success and their importance to the sport, money that is paid regardless of current performance. Williams also get a 'heritage bonus'.
Liberty has said it wants to see a more level playing field, with a more competitive grid that would give smaller teams a chance.
Williams have 18-year-old Canadian rookie Lance Stroll in their lineup this season along with Brazilian veteran Felipe Massa after Finland's Valtteri Bottas moved to champions Mercedes.
Bottas, who scored 85 points to Massa's 53 last year, has replaced the now-retired 2016 world champion Nico Rosberg.
($1 = 0.8039 pounds)
(Editing by John O'Brien)