Williams Grand Prix Engineering
Williams Grand Prix Engineering Limited (FWB: WGF1), trading as Williams Martini Racing, is a British Formula One motor racing team and constructor. It is founded and run by team owner Sir Frank Williams and automotive engineer Patrick Head. The team was formed in 1977 after Frank Williams' two earlier unsuccessful F1 operations: Frank Williams Racing Cars (1969 to 1975) and Walter Wolf Racing (1976). All of Williams F1 chassis are called "FW" then a number, the FW being the initials of team owner, Frank Williams.
Williams' first race was the 1977 Spanish Grand Prix, where the new team ran a March chassis for Patrick Nève. Williams started manufacturing its own cars the following year, and Switzerland's Clay Regazzoni won Williams' first race at the 1979 British Grand Prix. At the 1997 British Grand Prix, Canadian Jacques Villeneuve won the team's 100th race, making Williams one of only three teams in Formula One, alongside Ferrari and fellow British team McLaren, to win 100 races. Williams won nine Constructor's titles between 1980 and 1997. This stood as a record until Ferrari surpassed it in 2000.
Many famous racing drivers have driven for Williams, including Australia's Alan Jones; Finland's Keke Rosberg; Britain's Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill and Jenson Button; France's Alain Prost; Brazil's Nelson Piquet and Ayrton Senna, and Canada's Jacques Villeneuve, each of whom, with the exception of Senna and Button, have captured one Drivers' title with the team.
Williams have worked with many notable engine manufacturers, most successfully with Renault: Williams won five of their nine constructors' titles with the French company. Along with Ferrari, McLaren, Benetton and Renault, Williams is one of a group of five teams that won every constructors' championship between 1979 and 2008 and every driver's championship from 1984 to 2008.
Williams F1 also has business interests beyond Formula One racing. It has established Williams Advanced Engineering and Williams Hybrid Power which take technology originally developed for Formula One and adapt it for commercial applications. At the Williams Technology Centre in Qatar this includes commercial applications of Williams’ simulator technology and electromechanical flywheels for public transport and renewable energy applications.
- 1 Origins
- 2 Ownership
- 3 Racing history – Formula One
- 3.1 Ford engines (1977–1983)
- 3.2 Honda engines (1983–1987)
- 3.3 Judd engines (1988)
- 3.4 Renault engines (1989–1997)
- 3.5 Mecachrome engines (1998)
- 3.6 Supertec engines (1999)
- 3.7 BMW partnership (2000–2005)
- 3.8 Cosworth engines (2006)
- 3.9 Toyota engines (2007–2009)
- 3.10 Return to Cosworth engines (2010–2011)
- 3.11 Return to Renault engines (2012–2013)
- 3.12 Mercedes-Benz engines (2014)
- 3.13 Formula One results
- 4 Williams Advanced Engineering
- 5 Other motorsports and Williams-branded cars
- 6 Footnotes
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Frank Williams started the current Williams team in 1977 after his previous outfit, Frank Williams Racing Cars, failed to achieve the success he desired. Despite the promise of a new owner in the form of Canadian millionaire Walter Wolf, the team's 1976 cars were not competitive. Eventually Williams left the rechristened Walter Wolf Racing and moved to Didcot to rebuild his team as "Williams Grand Prix Engineering". Frank recruited young engineer Patrick Head to work for the team, creating the "Williams-Head" partnership.5
It was reported on 20 November 2009 by Reuters that Williams and Patrick Head had sold a minority interest in their team to an investment company led by Austrian Toto Wolff6 who has stated that it is purely a commercial decision.7
In February 2011, Williams F1 announced their intention to float via an Initial Public Offering on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, from March 2011. Swiss-based Bank am Bellevue AG will act as sole global co-ordinator of up to 27.39% of existing shares, a total of 2,739,383 shares. The shares will be offered to the public in the UK, Germany, Switzerland and Austria; while private institutional investment will be available to organisations in other EU countries, plus the United States, Canada, Japan and Australia. Sir Frank Williams will remain majority shareholder and team principal after the IPO.8 The shares are valued at between 24 and 29 euros, which values the Williams F1 team at 265 million euros.
Williams entered a customer March 761 for the 1977 season. Lone driver Patrick Nève appeared at 11 races that year, starting with the Spanish Grand Prix. The new team failed to score a point, achieving a best finish of 7th at the Italian Grand Prix.9
For the 1978 season, Patrick Head designed his first Williams car: the FW06. Williams signed Australian Alan Jones, who had won the Austrian Grand Prix the previous season for a devastated Shadow team following the death of their lead driver, Tom Pryce. Jones’s first race for the team was the Argentine Grand Prix where he qualified the lone Williams in 14th position, but retired after 36 laps with a fuel system failure. The team scored its first championship points two rounds later at the South African Grand Prix when Jones finished fourth. Williams managed their first podium position at the US Grand Prix, where the Australian came second, some 20 seconds behind the Ferrari of future Williams driver Carlos Reutemann.10 Williams ended the season in tenth place in the constructors’ championship, with a respectable 16 points, while Alan Jones finished 12th in the drivers' championship.
Head designed the FW07 for the 1979 season. This was the team’s first ground effect car, a technology first introduced by Colin Chapman and Team Lotus. Williams also obtained membership of the Formula One Constructors Association (FOCA) which expressed a preference for teams to run two cars, so Jones was partnered by Swiss driver Clay Regazzoni.11 They had to wait until the seventh round of the championship, the Monaco Grand Prix, for a points-scoring position. Regazzoni came close to taking the team’s first win but finished second, less than a second behind race winner Jody Scheckter. The next round at Dijon is remembered for the final lap battle between René Arnoux and Gilles Villeneuve, but also saw both cars finish in the points for the first time; Jones was fourth with Regazzoni sixth.12 The team’s first win came at the 1979 British Grand Prix – their home Grand Prix – when Regazzoni finished almost 25 seconds ahead of anyone else.
Things got even better when Williams cars finished first and second at the next round in Hockenheim, Alan Jones two seconds ahead of Regazzoni. Jones then made it three wins in a row at the Österreichring, finishing half a minute ahead of Gilles Villeneuve’s Ferrari. Three wins in a row became four wins two weeks later at Zandvoort, Alan Jones winning again by a comfortable margin over Jody Scheckter’s Ferrari. Scheckter ended the Williams winning streak when he won Ferrari’s home Italian Grand Prix, Regazzoni finishing third behind both Ferraris. Alan Jones managed another win at the penultimate race at Montreal to cap off a great season.
Williams had greatly improved their constructors' championship position, finishing eight places higher than the previous year and scoring 59 more points. Alan Jones was the closest driver to the Ferrari duo of Villeneuve and 1979 champion Jody Scheckter, the Australian scored 43 points, 17 behind the South African, while Jones’s team mate, Regazzoni, was two places behind him with 32 points.
In 1980, Alan Jones partnered the Argentine Carlos Reutemann. The team started well in the championship, with Jones winning the first round of the season in Argentina. Jones won four more races: Paul Ricard, Brands Hatch, Montreal and the final round at Watkins Glen. Jones became the first of seven Williams drivers to win the drivers' championship, 17 points ahead of Nelson Piquet’s Brabham. Williams also won its first constructors’ championship, scoring 120 points, almost twice as many as second-placed Ligier.
The duo won four races for the Williams team in the 1981 season. Alan Jones won at the first round at Long Beach and the final round at Las Vegas, while Carlos Reutemann won at the second round at Jacarepagua and the fifth round at Zolder. Williams won the constructors’ title for the second year running, scoring 95 points, 34 points more than second-placed Brabham.
Alan Jones retired from Formula One, only to come back a year later for a single race with the Arrows team. The Australian was replaced by Finnish driver, Keke Rosberg, who had not scored a single championship point the previous year. He won the Drivers title that year; winning only one race, the Swiss Grand Prix at Dijon-Prenois. Rosberg’s teammate, Reutemann, finished in 15th place having quit Formula One after just two races of the new season. His seat was filled by Mario Andretti for the US Grand Prix West before Derek Daly took over for the rest of the year. The Williams team finished fourth in the constructors’ championship that year, 16 points behind champions Ferrari.
By the end of the season, Frank Williams realised that to compete at the top levels of Formula One he needed the support of a major manufacturer, such as Renault or BMW who could supply his team with a turbo engine.
- Related Articles: Honda Racing F1
Frank Williams looked towards Honda, which was developing its own turbo-charged V6 engine with the Spirit team. A deal between Honda and Williams was finally settled early in 1983 and the team used the engines for the 1984 season. For the rest of the 1983 season, Williams used the Ford engine except for the last race of the year in South Africa where Rosberg scored an encouraging fifth place. The team finished fourth in the constructors’ championship, scoring 36 points, including a win for Keke Rosberg at the 1983 Monaco Grand Prix. During most of this time, and for the next several years after (until the end of the 1993 season), Williams cars ran with the yellow-blue-and-white Canon livery.
For the 1984 season, Head designed the ungainly FW09. Keke Rosberg won the Dallas Grand Prix and managed to get second at the opening race in Brazil. Rosberg’s team mate, Jacques Laffite, came 14th in the drivers' championship with five points. The team finished sixth with 25.5 points, with Rosberg eighth in the drivers' championship.
In 1985, Head designed the FW10, the team’s first chassis to employ the carbon-fibre composite technology pioneered by the McLaren team. British driver Nigel Mansell joined the team to partner Rosberg. The team scored four wins with Rosberg winning in Detroit and Adelaide, and Mansell taking the European Grand Prix and the South African Grand Prix. Williams finished third in the constructors' championship, scoring 71 points.
During qualifying for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, Rosberg lapped the ultra fast 4.719 km (2.932 mi) circuit in 1:05.591 for an average speed of 160.938 mph (259.005 km/h), the fastest recorded lap in Formula One history to that point.
In March 1986, Frank Williams faced the most serious challenge of his life. While returning to the airport at Nice (France) after pre-season testing at Paul Ricard, he was involved in a road accident which left him paralysed. He did not return to the pit lane for almost a year.13 Despite the lack of his trackside presence in the team, the Williams team won nine Grands Prix and the constructors’ Championship and came close to winning the Drivers' championship with Nigel Mansell, but the British driver’s left-rear tyre blew at the Australian GP, the final round of the season, while his fellow championship rival and teammate, Nelson Piquet made a pitstop shortly after Mansell’s retirement as a precaution. This left Alain Prost to defend his title successfully, despite being in an inferior car.
The 1987 season brought Williams-Honda partnership its first and only Drivers' championship title in the form of Nelson Piquet, who scored 76 points – 73 after dropped scores (best eleven results counted) in relation to the Drivers' Championship – and won three races, while the Brazilian’s teammate Mansell, was 15 points behind him – 12 on dropped scores – in second place with six victories during the season. The Williams team won the constructors championship for the second year running, scoring 137 points, 61 points ahead of their nearest rivals McLaren. Despite this success, Honda ended their partnership with Williams at the end of the year in favour of McLaren, and continuing with Lotus.
- Related Articles: Judd (engine)
Unable to make a deal with another major engine manufacturer, Williams used naturally aspirated Judd engines for the 1988 season.14 This left them with a significant performance deficit compared with their turbo-powered rivals. Piquet left Williams to join Lotus who had retained their Honda engines for the 1988 season, helped by having Satoru Nakajima as number 2 driver to Piquet. Williams brought in Italian Riccardo Patrese to replace Piquet. The team did not win a race that season and finished seventh in the constructors championship, scoring 20 points. The highlights of the season were two second places by Mansell, at the British and Spanish Grand Prix. When Mansell was forced to miss two races through illness, he was replaced by Martin Brundle and then Jean-Louis Schlesser.
- Related Article: Renault F1
The team secured an engine supply from Renault in 1989. Renault engines subsequently powered Williams drivers to another four Drivers' and five constructors’ Championships up until Renault’s departure from Formula One at the end of 1997. The combination of Renault’s powerful engine and Adrian Newey’s design expertise led to a particularly dominant period in the mid 1990s. Mansell had a record breaking 1992 season winning the title in record time and leading many races from pole to finish. Some maintain that the Williams FW14B and FW15C were "the most technologically advanced cars that will ever race in Formula One".15
The Renault era started in 1989, with Italian Riccardo Patrese and Belgian Thierry Boutsen at the helm of the two Williams cars. Boutsen replaced Mansell, who had signed on to be Gerhard Berger's teammate at Ferrari. The engine’s first grand prix in Brazil was one that the team preferred to forget, with Boutsen retiring with an engine failure and Patrese with an alternator failure after leading, although Patrese did qualify second. The Williams Renault team managed to get back on track with Boutsen coming fourth in the next race at Imola, earning the team three points in their championship campaign. Two races later at the Mexican Grand Prix, the team managed to achieve their first podium with the Renault engine, thanks to Patrese, who came second, 15 seconds behind the race winner Ayrton Senna. The next race saw Patrese come second again, having started from 14th on the grid, with Boutsen 6th. At the sixth round in Canada, Williams not only scored their first win with the Renault engine but also their first one-two: Thierry Boutsen came first followed by Patrese, resulting in 15 points for Williams' championship campaign. Williams came second in the constructors’ championship, scoring 77 points in total; 64 points behind winners McLaren. Patrese finished 3rd in the drivers' championship with 40 points, 41 points behind the 1989 world champion, Alain Prost. Boutsen finished 5th in the championship with 37 points after also winning in Australia. Boutsen's win in Australia gave Williams the distinction of having won the first and last Grands Prix of the 1980s.
In the 1990 season, Williams kept Patrese and Boutsen as the team’s drivers. Although Patrese won the San Marino Grand Prix and Boutsen won pole position and the race at the Hungarian Grand Prix, the team scored 30 fewer points than the previous year and finished the constructors’ championship two positions lower, in fourth. In the drivers' championship, Boutsen finished sixth with 34 points and Patrese seventh with 23 points.
Boutsen left Williams and joined Ligier at the start of 1991. His replacement was a returning Nigel Mansell, who had spent the previous two seasons driving for Scuderia Ferrari. Williams also recruited future 1996 world champion, Damon Hill, as one of their new test drivers. Williams failed to finish in the first Grand Prix of the season at Phoenix, both drivers retiring with gearbox problems. Patrese got back on track for the team in the next Grand Prix at Interlagos, coming second behind McLaren's Ayrton Senna. The 1991 San Marino Grand Prix saw both cars retiring again: Mansell after a collision and Patrese with an electrical failure after 17 laps. The Grand Prix at Monaco saw Mansell finally finish in a points-scoring position, coming second, 18 seconds behind race winner Ayrton Senna. At the next race, the Canadian Grand Prix, Williams locked out the front row only for Patrese to drop back with gearbox problems and Mansell to retire from the lead on the final lap with an electrical fault. At the following race, in Mexico, Williams finally broke their 1991 duck with a 1–2, Patrese finishing ahead of Mansell to score 16 points for the Williams team. Williams then had two consecutive further victories, with Mansell winning the French Grand Prix, five seconds ahead of Alain Prost’s Ferrari. Mansell then won again at the British Grand Prix; it had been four years since a Briton had won the grand prix, Mansell having won it in 1987. Three consecutive victories became four when Mansell won again in Germany, Patrese was about 10 seconds behind him in second place. Senna ended Williams' run of victories by winning in Hungary, finishing five seconds ahead of Nigel Mansell. Mansell later won the Italian Grand Prix and the Spanish Grand Prix, while Patrese won the Portuguese Grand Prix after Mansell's race was ruined by a botched pitstop in which only three wheel nuts were fitted. Williams finished second in the constructors’ championship, scoring 125 points in total, 14 points behind McLaren. Mansell finished second in the drivers' championship, scoring 72 points, 24 points behind Senna.
Williams took a step up for the 1992 season, keeping their 1991 driver line-up of Patrese and Mansell. Mansell dominated the first round in South Africa, qualifying in pole position and winning the race by 24 seconds from his team-mate Patrese. Nigel Mansell won the next four rounds for Williams, at Mexico City, Interlagos, Catalunya and Imola, Patrese coming second in all but one (the Spanish Grand Prix, where he retired after spinning off). Mansell's five victories in the opening five races was a new record in Formula One. Senna won the next race in Monaco, ahead of both Williams cars, which finished second and third. In the next race, in Canada, both Williams cars retired: Mansell spun off on entering the final corner (he claimed that Senna pushed him off) and Patrese had a gearbox failure. Mansell went on to record four more Grand Prix wins, including at the British Grand Prix. (In the final round, in Adelaide, the two Williams again retired, Mansell after Senna violently crashed into the back of him, and Patrese with electrical problems.) Williams won the constructors’ championship with 164 points, 65 points more than second place McLaren. Mansell became World Champion, scoring 108 points, with Patrese finishing second with 56 points. In winning nine races in a single season Mansell had set a new record for the most wins by a single driver in one season.
Despite capturing the title and nine races, Nigel Mansell's seat was not safe for 1993 as Williams looked to sign either Alain Prost, who had taken 1992 off after he was fired by Ferrari, or Ayrton Senna, whose contract with McLaren was expiring. Patrese's position looked to be under threat and he signed for Benetton before the end of the year. Ironically, only Prost was able to agree terms with Williams for 1993, leaving a seat free for Patrese had he remained with the team. Upon hearing that Prost had signed with Williams, Mansell departed for CART rather than be teammates with the Frenchman as they did not have a good relationship from their time together at Ferrari. Prost's contract with Williams included a clause that vetoed the signing of Senna for the 1993 season, and the Brazilian remained at McLaren.
Nigel Mansell left the Williams team in 1993 for CART racing, the team hired triple champion Alain Prost, and promoted test driver Damon Hill to replace Riccardo Patrese, who had left to join Michael Schumacher at Benetton.
The Williams FW15C was the dominant car, with active suspension and traction control systems beyond anything available to the other teams.16 Prost won on his debut for the team in South Africa and, like Mansell, dominated the weekend, taking pole position and finishing a minute ahead of Senna, who was second. The next Grand Prix in Brazil saw Prost collide with Christian Fittipaldi's Minardi in the rain on lap 29, while Hill went on to his first podium finish: second, 16 seconds behind Senna. Prost won three of the next four Grands Prix for Williams, Senna winning the other race. Prost and Hill later scored a 1–2 in France: the only 1–2 of the season for Williams. The Frenchman won the next two Grand Prix at Silverstone and Hockenheim. Prost’s team mate Hill proved competitive especially in the second half of the season. Mechanical problems cost the Englishman leads in Britain and Germany, but he went on to win the next three Grand Prix at Hungary; Belgium and Italy which moved him to second in the standings, as well as giving him a chance of taking the drivers' title. After Italy, Williams would not win a Grand Prix for the rest of the season, as a young Michael Schumacher won the following race in Portugal, and Senna took Japan and Australia to overtake Hill in the points. Williams retained their constructor’s title, 84 points ahead of second placed, McLaren. Prost clinched the driver’s championship in Portugal and finished the season 26 points ahead of second placed Ayrton Senna.
1993 marked the final season that Williams ran with Canon as its primary backer.
During the 1994 season, Williams used FW16 (developed during the pre-season) and FW16B (with shorter sidepods and optimised for the revised floor regulations which were introduced during the season).
As the provision in Alain Prost's contract regarding his former teammate-turned-rival had expired following the 1993 season, Williams pursued and signed Ayrton Senna to a contract for 1994 while Prost elected to retire from competition. Given this was the same team that had won the previous two World Championships with vastly superior cars, Senna was a natural and presumptive pre-season title favourite, with second-year driver Damon Hill intended to play the supporting role. Between them, Prost, Senna, and Hill had won every race in 1993 but one, which was taken by Benetton's Michael Schumacher.
Pre-season testing showed the car had speed but was difficult to drive. The FIA had banned electronic drivers aids, such as active suspension, traction control and ABS, to make the sport more "human". It was these technological advancements that the Williams chassis' of the previous years had been built around. With their removal in '94 Williams had not been a good-handling car, as observed by other F1 drivers, having been seen to be very loose at the rear. Senna himself had made numerous comments that the Williams FW16 had some quirks which needed to be ironed out. It was obvious that the FW16, after the regulation changes banning active suspension and traction control, exhibited none of the superiority of the FW15C and Williams FW14B cars that had preceded it. The surprise of testing was Benetton-Ford which was less powerful but more nimble than the Williams.
The first four rounds were won by Michael Schumacher in the Benetton-Ford. Senna took pole in the first three races but failed to finish all three. In the third race, the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix in Imola, Senna was involved in a fatal crash at the first corner after completing six laps.18 The repercussions of Senna's fatal accident were severe for the team itself, as the Italian prosecutors tried to charge the team and Frank Williams with manslaughter, an episode which was not over until 2005.19 At the next race in Monaco, Damon Hill was the only Williams on the grid, as a mark of respect to Senna,20 and retired on the first lap. Since Senna's death, every Williams F1 car has carried a Senna 'S' somewhere on its livery in his honour and to symbolise the team's ongoing support of the Instituto Ayrton Senna.citation needed
The next race in Spain, Williams brought in test driver, David Coulthard, as Hill’s new teammate. In the race itself, Hill took the team's first victory of the season, by almost half a minute over Schumacher's Benetton, while Coulthard would retire due to an electrical problem. In Canada, both Williams cars finished in the points for the first time that season, with Hill finishing second and Coulthard finishing fifth. In France, Nigel Mansell replaced Coulthard (in the first of four appearances), at the behest of Renault. At Silverstone, Damon Hill did something his father, Graham, never did, which was winning the British Grand Prix. Hill closed the gap with Schumacher in the championship, after the German was disqualified from first at Spa after the Stewards found floorboard irregularities on his Benetton. He was banned for the next two races, in which Hill capitalised on with wins in Italy and a Williams 1–2 in Portugal.
With three races left, 1992 champion Nigel Mansell returned from CART (where the season had concluded) to replace Coulthard for the remainder of the season. Mansell would get approximately £900,000 per race, while Hill was paid £300,000 for the entire season, though Hill remained as lead driver.2122
Schumacher came back after his suspension for the European Grand Prix, which he won by about 25 seconds, to take a lead of 5 points into the penultimate round in Japan. If Hill did not finish ahead of Schumacher, it would be very unlikely that he would take the title in the final round in Adelaide. The race in Japan was held in torrential rain, with Hill managing to win the restarted race, by three seconds on aggregate over Schumacher who finished second. Going into the final round at Adelaide, Schumacher led Hill by one point. Mansell took pole for Williams, but had a poor start which let Hill and Schumacher through to fight it out for the lead and the 1994 title. Mid way through the race, Schumacher’s perceived need for a low downforce setup cost him, as he lost control and clipped the outside wall at the 5th corner (out of sight of Hill). As Schumacher recovered, Hill came round the corner and attempted to overtake into the next corner. Schumacher turned in and the resulting contact (Schumacher in the wall and Hill retiring with bent suspension), meant Schumacher was the champion. This collision has been controversial. Some, such as Williams' Patrick Head, have suggested that this was a deliberate attempt by Schumacher to take Hill out of the race.23 However others, such as then BBC commentator Murray Walker, defended Schumacher, calling the accident a "racing incident".
Williams would end the season as constructors champions for the third consecutive year, scoring 118 points, while Hill finished second in the drivers championship with 91 points.
In 1995, Nigel Mansell wasn't retained, Williams favouring Coulthard over him, to partner Hill. At the first round in Brazil, Schumacher started off with a win, with Coulthard taking second. However, both were disqualified from the race after it was found that their fuel supplier, Elf, supplied the teams with a type of fuel that was different from the ones they gave to the FIA as samples. So Gerhard Berger and Ferrari were declared winners, until Schumacher and Coulthard had their positions reinstated after appeal, though Benetton and Williams were not awarded their constructors points. Hill won the next two races in Argentina and San Marino and would later win two more races, which were at The Hungaroring and in Adelaide, the latter where Hill won two laps ahead of the field in one of F1's most dominating victories. Coulthard would also record his only win for the Williams team, at Estoril, before moving to McLaren. Benetton would end Williams' four year dominance after they won the championship 29 points ahead Williams. Hill would come second for the second year running, 33 points behind Schumacher.
For 1996, Williams clearly had the quickest and most reliable car, the FW18.24 Coulthard had left Williams to join Mika Häkkinen at McLaren, Williams replaced the Scotsman with Canadian Jacques Villeneuve, while Hill remained with the team. Schumacher left Benetton to join Ferrari. Williams won the first five Grands Prix, Hill winning all but one of them. Olivier Panis would take victory at the sixth round in Monaco after both Williams cars retired. Hill would retire for the second time in a row after he spun off in Spain, while his team mate, Villeneuve, took third place. Hill and Villeneuve dominated the next Grand Prix in Canada, with a 1–2 in qualifying and a 1–2 in the race. Williams made it a second 1–2 after Hill won the French Grand Prix. Villeneuve won his second race in F1 at Silverstone after Hill retired with a wheel bearing failure on lap 26. The Brit would be victorious in the next Grand Prix in Germany while Villeneuve would win the race after that in Hungary. Schumacher’s Ferrari would then take the next two Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps and Monza. Villeneuve mounted a title challenge going into the final race of the season at Japan, but Hill reasserted his dominance to take the race and the 1996 title, while Villeneuve lost a wheel and retired.
Williams' dominance was such that they had clinched the constructors' championship and only their drivers had a mathematical chance of taking the title, several races before the season concluded. Around that time, Frank Williams announced that Hill would not be re-signed after his contract expired, despite Hill's successes and eventual drivers' championship, so he joined Arrows for 1997. Also, Adrian Newey had ambitions as a technical director (rather than just chief designer), but this wasn't possible at Williams, as Patrick Head was a founder and shareholder of the team. McLaren lured Newey away, though he was forced to take garden leave for the majority of 1997.
For what would be the final season of Williams-Renault and a car designed with Newey's input, Frank Williams brought in German Heinz-Harald Frentzen, as he had created a good impression on Williams during his first few seasons in Formula One. Frentzen proved to be a disappointment though, and won only one race in his two year spell at Williams, the 1997 San Marino Grand Prix. Jacques Villeneuve won seven races during 1997, with his main rival, Michael Schumacher of a resurgent Ferrari, winning five. Williams also achieved the 100 race win milestone at the British Grand Prix. Coming to the final round of the season at Jerez, Schumacher lead the Canadian by 1 point, however on lap 48, Schumacher and Villeneuve collided. Schumacher was disqualified from second place in the championship as the accident was deemed by the FIA as "avoidable", Williams won the constructors title for the second time in a row, scoring 123 points, while Jacques Villeneuve won the driver’s championship by three points to Michael Schumacher, who kept his points total despite being removed from second place, with Williams team-mate Frentzen a further thirty six points behind.25
After 1997, the team were unable to maintain their dominance in Formula 1 as Renault ended their full-time involvement in Formula 1, and Adrian Newey moved to rival team McLaren. Williams then had to pay for Mecachrome engines, which were old, rebadged Renault engines.26 Both these meant that the car not only featured a very similar aerodynamic package to their 1997 car, but also virtually the same engine, leading to some to comment that they ran what was virtually the same car, adjust for the 1998 regulations. There were changes on the sponsorship front however as Rothmans opted to promote their Winfield brand, which ended the popular blue and white livery, replacing it with a red one.27 For 1998, Williams kept the two drivers from the previous season, the first time since 1983 that a reigning world champion remained driving for Williams. While Ferrari and McLaren battled for the constructors' and drivers' titles, Williams fell to the middle of the field. The team won no races and took 3 podiums during the season, with Frentzen finishing in third at the first round in Australia and Villeneuve finishing third in Germany and Hungary. Williams finished third in the constructors championship, scoring 38 points, while Villeneuve finished fifth in the driver’s championship with 21 points and his German team mate, Frentzen, finished 4 points behind him in seventh.
In 1999, Williams employed the Supertec engine, which was a rebadged Mecachrome/Renault unit and new driver line up. Villeneuve moved to the new BAR-Supertec team and Frentzen moved to Jordan. German Ralf Schumacher joined Williams in what amounted to a driver trade as Frentzen would be taking over Schumacher's old ride at Jordan. Alex Zanardi, an Italian driver who had won the last two CART series championships, also signed with the team after Sir Frank Williams had spent the better part of the last year trying to get him to defect from the CART series. The team managed three podiums, all scored by Ralf Schumacher, with third place in Australia and Britain, along with a second place in Italy. The team finished fifth in the constructor’s championship, the lowest finish for Williams in the 1990s; the team finished behind Stewart and Jordan, scoring a total of 35 points. Of those points, all were scored by Schumacher as Zanardi, who had not performed well in his previous stint in F1 either, failed to finish in the top six in any race. At the end of the season, Williams bought Zanardi's contract out.
During 1998, the team signed a long term agreement with BMW, with the German manufacturer supplying engines and expertise for a period of 6 years. As part of the deal BMW expected at least one driver to be German, which led to the team's signing of Ralf Schumacher for the previous season. In 1999, the team had a Williams car with a BMW engine testing at circuits, in preparation for a debut in 2000. Williams sought the services of Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya, who had replaced Zanardi at Chip Ganassi Racing when he left to drive for Williams in 1999, to step in but Montoya was still under contract to Ganassi for one more season and unavailable. Britain's Jenson Button was called upon made his debut instead. With the switch from the rebadged Renault engines also came a sponsor change, as Rothmans International was purchased by British American Tobacco, which was already partners with Honda in the British American Racing team and thus had no need to sponsor another team's car. Williams contracted with Hewlett Packard for sponsorship and once again their car colours changed from the red and white livery under the Winfield sponsorship to navy blue and white.
BMW Williams' first season did not see a single victory during the season. They did, however, manage to get on the podium three times, with Ralf Schumacher responsible for all three. Williams finished third in the constructor’s championship, with 36 points, one more than the prior year. Ralf Schumacher finished fifth in the driver’s championship, while Button, in his debut season, finished three places behind in eighth. Button made some scrappy mistakes in early races (Monaco, Europe), but overall made an impressive debut in Melbourne, and continued to impress, notably at Silverstone, Spa and Suzuka.
In 2001, Button moved to Benetton-Renault due to Montoya's arrival at the team. The FW23 won four races, three by Ralf Schumacher at Imola, Montreal, and his home Grand Prix in Germany. His teammate, Montoya, was victorious at Monza, and would have won a few more races if not for the FW23's unreliability and pit crew blunders. The car proved to be quicker than the Ferrari and McLaren counterparts in several races, but Williams' 2001 campaign only yielded third place in the constructor’s championship.
For 2002, Williams kept their 2001 driver line up for the upcoming season. The team only won one race, which was at Malaysia, one of only 2 races not won by Ferrari in a year dominated by the Ferraris of Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello.28 Williams did improve on their constructor’s championship position, finishing in second. Montoya finished third in the driver’s championship, eight points ahead of Ralf Schumacher, who finished fourth.
In qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix at the 5.793 km (3.600 mi) Monza circuit, Montoya lapped his Williams FW24 in 1:20.264 for an average speed of 161.449 mph (259.827 km/h), breaking the speed record of 160.938 mph (259.005 km/h) set by Keke Rosberg in a Honda turbo powered Williams FW10 at Silverstone for the 1985 British Grand Prix.
2003 would see BMW Williams reach their peak of success. During pre-season, Frank Williams was very confident that the FW25 would challenge for the title.29 The team won four races, with Montoya winning twice at Monaco and Germany, while Ralf Schumacher won at the Nürburgring and the following race at Magny-Cours. Montoya stayed in contention for the driver’s championship during the season, and the Colombian finished third in the championship, 11 points behind Michael Schumacher, while the younger Schumacher finished 24 points astern of Montoya in fifth. Williams finished second in the constructor’s championship, two points ahead of McLaren.
At the start of the 2004 season, it was announced that Montoya would be moving to McLaren in 2005. The team began the season with a radical nose-cone design, known as the "Walrus-Nose", that proved uncompetitive and was replaced by a more conventional assembly in the second half of the year. Ferrari for the third time running, dominated the season, winning 15 of the 18 races. Williams did, however, pick up a win during the season at the final race in Brazil, with Juan Pablo Montoya winning the race by a second from Kimi Räikkönen's McLaren; this remained Williams' last F1 win until the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix. Another memorable part of the season was when both Williams and Toyota were disqualified from the Canadian Grand Prix after it was discovered that both cars had brake irregularities, the brake ducts seemingly not conforming to regulations.citation needed Williams finished the season in fourth, scoring 88 points and finishing on the podium six times, while Montoya was the highest placed Williams driver that year, finishing in fifth position; scoring 58 points.
For the 2005 season, Schumacher moved to Toyota, while Montoya moved to McLaren. Taking their places were Australian Mark Webber and German Nick Heidfeld.3031 Initially Jenson Button was to have driven for Williams in 2005,32 but an FIA ruling forced Button to remain with his current team BAR.33 Antônio Pizzonia served as the test driver for the team during the 2005 season. Meanwhile, Button signed a contract to drive for Williams in 2006.
During the course of the 2004 and 2005 F1 seasons, BMW Motorsport and director Mario Theissen increasingly became publicly critical of the Williams F1 team’s inability to create a package capable of winning the constructors championship, or even multiple victories within a single season.34 Williams, on the other hand, blamed BMW for not producing a good enough engine.35 Williams' failed attempt to prise Jenson Button out of his BAR contract may also have been an issue with Theissen. Despite Frank Williams' rare decision to cave in to commercial demands by employing German driver Nick Heidfeld when he allegedly preferred Antônio Pizzonia, the fallout between BMW and Williams continued through the 2005 Formula One season. Despite BMW's contract with Williams to supply engines until 2009, this public deterioration of the relationship between BMW and WilliamsF1 was a factor in the decision by BMW Motorsport to buy Sauber and rebrand that team to feature the BMW name.36
This period (2000–2005) saw Williams depart from the standard livery scheme in motorsport, which consists of one colour scheme, either the teams' or the major sponsors', with smaller logos in their own scheme. BMW stipulated that, and paid for, the whole vehicle to be in blue and white, with other sponsors adopting this scheme. Also in 2000, Williams abandoned tobacco advertising in favour of Information technology companies, as the team’s second major sponsor became Compaq. That sponsorship lasted until Compaq’s acquisition by Hewlett-Packard. At the 2002 British Grand Prix, the team debuted the Hewlett-Packard sponsorship. After complaints about the HP logo on the rear wing it was replaced in 2003 with the sponsor’s tag line, "Invent".citation needed One of the most memorable results of this technological partnership was a worldwide television commercial featured drivers Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya seemingly driving their BMW Williams cars around a track by radio control from a grandstand.37
This "clean" image allowed Williams to sign a cigarette anti-craving brand, Niquitin,38 and Anheuser-Busch, alternating with the Budweiser beer brand39 and SeaWorld Adventure Parks,40 in compliance with trademark disputes or alcohol bans.
- Related Article: Cosworth
Williams could have opted to continue with BMW engines in 2006, despite the fact that the engine manufacturer was about to set up its own team.citation needed In the end, though, Williams opted for Cosworth V8 engines for 2006.
The 2006 season saw Nico Rosberg replace Nick Heidfeld, who departed for BMW Sauber, while Mark Webber stayed on with the team. Despite having signed a contract to race for Williams, Jenson Button decided to stay with BAR for 2006 as it was to become a Honda works team. In September 2005 a deal was reached to allow Button to remain with BAR, with Williams receiving around £24m, some of it paid by Jenson himself, to cancel this contract.citation needed
Williams and Cosworth entered a partnership agreement where Cosworth would supply engines, transmissions and associated electronics and software for the team.41 Major sponsors Hewlett-Packard (HP) concluded sponsorship agreements one year before their official end of contract. The Williams team also switched to Bridgestone tyres.
The season started well, with both drivers scoring points in the opening race of the season, and Nico Rosberg setting the fastest lap at the Bahrain Grand Prix. However, the rest of the season was very disappointing, with 20 retirements out of 36 starts for the two cars. The team failed to finish on the podium all season, the first time since Williams’ first season in 1977. The team eventually finished eighth in the constructors’ championship, with only 11 points.
Following Williams' worst points tally since 1978, the Grove-based team announced that Japanese car manufacturer Toyota would be supplying the engines for the 2007 season.42 Along with Toyota supplying engines to the team, a number of other changes were announced for 2007: Alexander Wurz, who had been a test driver at Williams since 2006, became the team’s second driver to replace the outgoing Mark Webber; Japanese driver Kazuki Nakajima, son of Satoru, replaced Wurz as a test driver alongside Karthikeyan. Sponsorship also saw a change in 2007, as it was announced that AT&T would become the title sponsors for the team from the upcoming season.43 AT&T were previously involved as minor sponsors with the Jaguar and McLaren teams, but moved to Williams following McLaren’s announcement of a title sponsorship deal with Vodafone, a competitor of AT&T.44 On 2 February, the new FW29 was presented to the media in the UK. Soon afterwards, the team secured a sponsorship deal with Lenovo who built the team's new supercomputer.
Rosberg and Wurz gave Williams a more productive season in terms of points and in Canada the Austrian scored the team's first podium finish since Nick Heidfeld's second place finish at the 2005 European Grand Prix. Over the course of the year Rosberg was consistently in the points, scoring 20 during the season, in comparison teammate Wurz who finished in the points three times. Following the announcement that Wurz would be retiring from the sport,45 Williams brought in their young test driver Nakajima to drive the second car for them in the final race in Brazil. The Japanese driver finished in tenth despite starting from near the back of the grid, while Rosberg enjoyed his best race of the season, finishing in fourth. Williams finished fourth in the Constructors' Championship that year.
For the 2008 season, Williams confirmed Nico Rosberg and Kazuki Nakajima as their race drivers. Rosberg was confirmed as staying with Williams until the end of 2009 on 9 December 2007, ending speculation that he could take Fernando Alonso's vacated seat at McLaren.46 During the Winter testing sessions, the team ran six different liveries to celebrate their thirtieth year in the sport and their 500th Grand Prix.47
The 2008 season was a mixture of success and disappointment for Williams. While Rosberg managed to obtain 2 podiums in Australia and Singapore, the team struggled at circuits with high speed corners. The fact that the team was one of the first to switch development to their 2009 car (when new regulations came in) also hindered their season, and Williams finished a disappointing 8th in the constructors championship. Rosberg stated that unless the team was more competitive in the near future, he would look for drives elsewhere. Williams retained Rosberg and Nakajima for the 2009 season.
Frank Williams had admitted that he had regretted parting with BMW but stated that Toyota had tremendous ability to become a top engine supplier. Speculation had been surrounding Toyota's future on the Formula 1 grid. This was due to the fact that for a big budget team, Toyota had only managed 2nd place as their best result. In December 2008 Williams confirmed their commitment to F1 following the Honda withdrawal announcement.48
Ahead of the 2009 Brazilian Grand Prix, Williams announced that it would be ending its three year partnership with Toyota and finding a new engine supplier for 2010.
After the termination of their Toyota contract, Williams announced that from the 2010 Formula One season they were to enter into a "long-term partnership" with Cosworth, and would be using an updated version of the CA V8 engine which powered their cars in 2006.49 Williams also announced a complete driver change for the 2010 season. Rubens Barrichello joined from 2009 constructors champion Brawn GP, whilst GP2 champion Nico Hülkenberg graduated from the test driver seat. Replacing Hülkenberg in the test seat was Finland's Valtteri Bottas, who finished third in the 2009 Formula Three Euroseries as well as winning the non-championship Masters of Formula 3 event at Zandvoort.50
Their new 2010 car, the FW32 was unveiled for the first time at a shakedown test at Silverstone. Its first official test was on 1 February at Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia. Hülkenberg took the team's first pole position in over five years, in variable conditions at the Brazilian Grand Prix. Hülkenberg was dropped from the team ahead of the 2011 season, and replaced by Venezuelan newcomer and reigning GP2 Series champion Pastor Maldonado.51 The combination of Rubens Barrichello and Maldonado meant that 2011 would be the first time since 1981 that Williams would start a season without a European driver in their line-up. At the second pre-season test in Jerez, Barrichello posted the fastest time of the week on the last day.
That was, however, to no avail as Williams endured one of their most dismal seasons to date: Two ninth places for Barrichello and one tenth place for Maldonado was their best results during the entire year and after Brazil, the team ended up in a ninth place in the Constructor's Championship.
On 4 July 2011, Williams announced they would be reuniting with former engine supplier Renault who will supply the team's engines from 2012 onwards.52 On 1 December 2011, it was confirmed that Maldonado would be retained for the 2012 season; along with reserve driver Valtteri Bottas, who will take part in 15 Friday practice sessions.53 According to a range of sources, it was confirmed on 17 January 2012 that Bruno Senna will be the driver to partner Maldonado, effectively ending Rubens Barrichello's F1 career.
Prior to the 2012 season, Patrick Head moved from the Williams F1 team to Williams Hybrid Power Limited, another subsidiary of Williams Grand Prix Holdings.54 The team also announced that its relationship with AT&T ended by mutual agreement, and there are ongoing negotiations with another telecommunications company for team's title sponsorship.55 At the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix, Pastor Maldonado took his first Grand Prix victory, which is also Williams' first race victory since 2004 Brazilian Grand Prix. Around 90 minutes after celebrating this win, a fire broke out in the garage of the Williams team, damaging the FW34 of Bruno Senna and leaving seven people in hospital. The team eventually achieved eighth position in the Formula One Constructors' World Championship.
The team struggled throughout the 2013 season, despite a good qualifying session at the 2013 Canadian Grand Prix and a place in the top 10 at the 2013 United States Grand Prix, only scoring five points in the World Driver's Championship.57
On 30 May 2013, Williams announced a long term contract with Mercedes to supply engines for the team. The German manufacturer will provide 1.6 litre V6 turbo engines from the start of the 2014 F1 season.58 On 11 November 2013 the team confirmed they would retain Bottas and would also sign Felipe Massa to replace Maldonado for the 2014 season. The team also unveiled a new, multi-year title sponsorship deal with drinks brand Martini on 6 March 2014. As part of the deal, the team became Williams Martini Racing.59
- Main article: Williams F1 Grand Prix results (results for Williams Grand Prix Engineering/Williams F1, 1978–2014)
- Constructor championships winning percentage: 25.0%
- Driver championships winning percentage: 19.4%
- Winning percentage: 18.7%
In 2008, Williams F1 took the decision to diversify the business into new areas beyond Formula One racing. It established Williams Advanced Engineering which takes technology that has its origins in Formula One and adapts it for a range of commercial purposes. This includes the development of high-power composite flywheel energy storage systems, commercial applications of the Group’s motorsport simulation technology, the design and manufacture of high performance vehicles such as the Jaguar C-X75, and engineering consulting services.
Williams Advanced Engineering is based at the Williams F1 factory in Grove, Oxfordshire and the Williams Technology Centre in Qatar.
Williams Hybrid Power (WHP) is the division of Williams F1 that develops electromechanical flywheels for mobile applications such as buses, trams and high performance endurance racing cars. A type of hybrid system that uses a spinning composite rotor to store energy, these flywheels help a vehicle save fuel and ultimately reduce its CO2 emissions.
WHP was first established in 2008 and immediately set about developing a new flywheel energy recovery system for the Williams F1 Team after the introduction of Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) into Formula One for the 2009 season. While other teams were pouring their efforts into electric battery systems, Williams F1 opted to go down the flywheel route because of a strong belief in the technology's wider applications. Whilst it was never raced in Formula One due to technical changes, WHP has since seen its technology adapted for a range of applications. For example, the Audi R18 hybrid car that won the 2012 Le Mans 24 Hours used a WHP flywheel. WHP has also seen its flywheel technology introduced into a series of buses as part of a deal with the Go-Ahead Group, one of the UK’s biggest transport operators.
Williams have developed the car for the revived Formula 2 championship, beginning in 2009.60 The design was originally created for a new, more powerful off-shoot of the Formula Palmer Audi series, however the car was re-purposed when Jonathan Palmer's MotorSport Vision successfully bid for the rights to run the new Formula 2 series.
The Metro 6R4 rally car was developed by Williams in 1984 on commission from Rover. The rally car was a MG Metro with a completely new V6 engine (mid-engined) and four-wheel drive, developed to the international Group B rallying regulations. Williams developed the car in just six months.
Williams entered the British Touring Car Championship in 1995, running the works Renault entry. Alain Menu was retained, with Will Hoy signed from Toyota to partner him. While Menu was a championship contender, Hoy had constant failures and bad luck during the first half of the season. However, Hoy's luck changed and he won three races and scored several podium finished in the second half of the year, eventually taking fourth in the championship while Menu finished second in the championship with seven wins. Renault won the manufacturers championship. 1996 was a more difficult year with the front wheel drive cars outclassed by the 4WD Audis of Frank Biela and John Bintcliffe. Alain Menu was second in the championship again, while Will Hoy finished a lowly ninth. 1997 was a breakthrough year for Williams, winning the drivers championship with Alain Menu, the manufacturers trophy and teams award. Other changes for the team saw Jason Plato replacing Will Hoy, taking third in the championship. The team won 15 races out of 24 in 1997. 1998 saw few changes to the Williams team: the driver lineup was unchanged with Alain Menu to defend his title alongside Jason Plato, but the main sponsor for 1998 was Nescafé, with Renault still putting sponsorship in for the team. While the Renaults had a new look for 1998, the opposition had caught up after 1997, and both Alain Menu and Jason Plato had a much harder season. The luck had changed for the team, with Alain Menu and Jason Plato no longer as competitive as they had been in recent years. Alain Menu and Jason Plato finished fourth and fifth in the championship. In the final round of 1998 at Silverstone, Menu and Plato were joined by Independents Champion Tommy Rustad. Renault ultimately finished third in the manufacturers trophy and second in the teams championship. 1999 was the most difficult season for Williams, after Alain Menu left Renault after racing with them since 1993. Jason Plato was joined by Jean-Christophe Boullion or 'JCB'. Nescafé were again the main sponsor for the Williams team in 1999. Renault did not have much luck in 1999 with engine failures haunting the team during the mid-part of the season, and poor results for much of the season. Only one win from Jason Plato was the only success for the season, and Renault pulled out of the BTCC at the end of the season.
Prior to their F1 partnership, Williams Motorsport built Le Mans Prototypes for BMW, known as the V12 LM and V12 LMR. The V12 LMR won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1999. The car was driven by Pierluigi Martini; Yannick Dalmas and Joachim Winkelhock,61 and operated by Schnitzer Motorsport under the name of BMW Motorsport.
Williams's name and logo were used on the Renault Clio Williams. However, no input was provided by Williams into the development of the car.
Through a subsidiary, Williams Hybrid Power, the company developed and supplied a flywheel based kinetic energy storage system which is in use on a Porsche 911 GT3 R car in various GT racing series. The car achieved its first victory on 28 May 2011 at the 4th round of the VLN Endurance Racing Championship held at the Nürburgring.62
The MG Metro 6R4 was developed by Williams for the 1986 World Rally Championship.
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Williams History (1967–2000) Taken from:
All Formula One race and championship results are taken from:
- Formula1.com – 1975 – present Archive. Retrieved 12 July 2006
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