11/18/02

 

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Frank Williams established Frank Williams (Racing Cars) Ltd. at the end of 1966. Williams had run out of money for his own career and so began preparing cars for his friend Piers Courage the wealthy heir to the Courage brewing family. The team debuted in October 1967, running a Formula 3 Brabham  for Courage at Brands Hatch. In 1968 Williams ran Courage in Formula 2 in a Brabham, while also preparing Formula 3  cars for Richard Burton, Tetsu Ikuzawa and Tony Trimmer.



For the 1969 season Williams decided to run  in Formula 2 once again and bought an ex-works  Brabham  Formula 1 car for selected F1 races. The season began in promising fashion with fifth place at the International Trophy and this was followed by second place at Monaco. This was followed later in the year by second at Watkins Glen and Courage finished eighth in the World Championship.  In F2 Williams ran up to four cars with drivers including Courage, Jacky Icxx Malcolm Guthrie, Alistair Walker and Graham Mcrae. Courage won at Enna.

For the 1970 season Williams went into partnership with Alessandro de Tomasso and ran Courage in a  Dallara designed de Tomaso-Ford. Disaster struck at Zandvoort with Courage being killed. Williams hired Tim Schenken  to finish the season but the De Tomaso program was stopped at the end of the year. In 1971 Williams became a March  customer,  This helped fund a Formula 2 team for Pescarolo and Bell and Pescarolo  won the opening round of the European F2 Championship at Mallory Park in his March 712M. By midseason the team had taken on a third car for  Carlos Pace Results were few and far between in both F1 and F2.

                     



At the start of 1972  the Politoys company approached Williams  and asked him to build cars for them. He hired Len Bailey and with Maurice Gomm in Woking doing the fabrication work, produced the Politoys- Cosworth. The car was late and so Williams started the season using old March chassis . Pace showed well but the new Politoys did not appear until the British Grand Prix and Pescarolo demolished the prototype early in the race. He then destroyed the Marches in a series of accidents. Pace  left at the end of the year but Williams found backing from the Italian car company Isa-Rivolta, from Marlboro and from wealthy driver Nanni Galli for the 1973 season. The team became known as Iso-Marlboro and ex-March designer John Clarke was hired to design a new car. The team ran Howden Ganley and a string of pay-drivers after Galli's money failed to materialize. Marlboro support meant that Williams had to drop Ganley . The second car was run for pay-drivers but at the end of the year  Jacques Laffite  settled in. The team struggled financially and the bad news came at the end of the year that Marlboro was withdrawing its support. Merzario and Laffite stayed on in 1975 with backing from Ambrozium and new cars were called Williams for the first time. Money was tight but Williams survived and the team had a moment of glory when Laffite finished second at the German GP.

        


Williams decided he had enough and left the team. He managed to convince several of his old team to join him, notably designer Patrick  Head, and the pair established Williams Grand Prix Engineering and announced that they would be running an old March  for Patrick neve with sponsorship from Belle-Vue beer. The team moved into a huge old carpet warehouse in Station Road, Didcot.


Head designed the new FW07 and Williams  hired Clay Regazzoni to partner Jones in 1979.  The new car was not ready for the start of the year but made its debut at Jarama in Spain in April.. Further aerodynamic changes by Head and Frank Dernie before the British GP were the breakthrough: Jones qualified on pole with Regazzoni fourth and Alan led until lap 38 when he suffered water pump failure. Regazzoni however won, giving Williams its first F1 victory. Jones went on to  win the next three races and a fourth in Canada He finished third in the World Championship



The FW08 of 1982 was a good car but Rosberg  won only one race. He was beaten byElio de Angelis  by a few meters in Austria, but two weeks later won the Swiss grand prix   . At the end of the year, reliability made him the World Champion.

        


Williams  knew that he had to find a turbocharged engine if he was to stay competitive and did a deal with Honda. The 1983 season saw Rosberg joined by Laffite and Ford  DFV engines but this did not stop Rosberg scoring a memorable victory at Monaco. The new  Honda-powered FW09 appeared at the final race of the year at Kyalami in mid-October and Rosberg finished fifth. The 1984 season was one of great frustration as there were a series of engine failures but in Dallas  in July Rosberg won another brilliant victory. At the end of the year Williams decided to hire Nigel  Mansell in place of Laffite.  Head  designed the FW10, the team's first carbonfiber chassis. They used old Honda engines for the first four races but then totally new engines arrived in Canada. Rosberg won in Detroit  but after mid-season reliability the FW10B appeared at Brands Hatch  in October and Mansell won his first race.  After that Williams was unbeatable, Mansell winning South Africa and Rosberg in
Australia

                           


Rosberg , however, decided to move to McLaren and Williams signed Piquet for 1986. Before the new season began Frank Williams  was seriously injured in a car accident near the Paul Ricard  racing circuit. He suffered spinal injuries which left him paralyzed. The team held together under Heads  guidance and the FW11 proved to be a dominant car. Piquet won in  Brazil  Germany Hungary & Italy while Mansell won Belgium, Canada, France, Britain and Portugal. The two men headed to Adelaide for a title showdown with Mclaren's Alain Prost In a dramatic race in which Mansell's tire blew, Prost won the title.
 

                         


The following year Piquet made no mistakes and won the Drivers' title but at the end of the year Honda switched to Mclaren and Williams found itself facing a future with Judd engines. Piquet moved to Lotus  and Riccardo Patrese was hired to partner Mansell in 1988. The package was not exceptional but Mansell twice finished second. At the end of the year, however, he signed for Ferrari. By then Williams had reached agreement to run Renault V10 engines in 1989. Thierry Boutsen was hired to partner Patrese and the Belgian won wet races in Canada & Austrailia. The Williams-Renault package needed more development in 1990 but Patrese won  at
Imola

                                     


That summer Williams hired designer Adrian Newey. Boutsen was dropped and Mansell returned to Williams. In 1991 the team began winning again with Mansell collecting five victories and Patrese two wins.Mclaren won the Constructors' title with Ayrton Senna  taking the Driver's crown but in 1992 there was no stopping Mansell in the Williams-Renault FW14B. The Englishman won nine victories and the World Championship. Patrese won only once, in Japan, but supported Mansell throughout and finished second. Williams had returned to domination.

                           

For 1993 Alain Prost  replaced Mansell  and, with test driver Damon Hill being promoted to the race team, Williams again became the dominant force. Prost won seven victories and the title but Hill came on strong to win three races and finish third in the World Championship. At the end of the year, however, Williams  decided that he wanted Ayrton Senna. Prost refused to stay in the team and so for 1994 Senna and Hill were the Williams drivers with a major new sponsorship deal from Rothmans.

 

                               

At the San Marino Gp,  Senna  crashed and was killed. Hill  became the team's number one driver and David Coulthard stepped up from his role as test driver, while Mansell  returned for several races when he was not busy racing in CART. The team won seven victories, six for Hill and one in Australia for Mansell, giving Williams another Constructors' title but Michael Schumacher  won the Drivers' crown when he drove Hill off the road in
Adelaide

 



That autumn Renault decided to supply  with engines (in order to get schumacher) and, as part of a settlement with Williams, the team was given the Renault deal for the British Touring Car Championship. For the 1995 season Hill and Coulthard  were signed to drive.  Hill won four races and Coulthard one but Schumacher and the Benetton team walked to the World Championship. That year the team moved to a huge new factory at Grove.

 

                                        

In 1996 Coulthard moved to Mclaren and Hill  was joined by Jacques Villeneuve. It was a good choice and while Hill won eight races and took the World Championship, Villeneuve got four victories. Hill was dumped at the end of the season and Heinz-Harald Frentzen was drafted in to replace him. In 1997 Villeneuve won seven times and beat Schumacher to the World Championship, despite the German trying to take Jacques off at the final race. Frentzen won once and Williams took another Constructors' title

                                    

 

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At the end of 1997 Renault  withdrew from F1, leaving Williams to use Mechachrome V10 engines (rebadged versions of the old Renault units). The team agreed a deal to use BMW  engines in 2000 and embarked on a sportscar program with BMW (which led to victory in the Lemans 24 Hours in 1999). The F1 program was not a success however as Mclaren became the dominant force in F1.
 

                               
Williams failed to win a race in 1998 and at the end of the year Villeneuve  left to join BAR and H-H Frentzen  moved to Jordan. Williams hired Michaels younger sibling Ralf Schumacher and CART champion Alex Zanardi. The cars were not competitive in 1999 with rebadged Mechachrome V10s (known as Supertec) but Schumacher scored some impressive results despite failing to win. Zanardi was a great disappointment and Williams decided to find a new driver in 2000 and signed up 20-year-old Jenson Button to partner Schumacher. Sponsorship for the Williams-Bmw team was found from the computer company Compaq and the team finished third in the Constructors' title.

                               

 

Williams then made the difficult decision to place Button at Benneton  and hired Juan Pablo Montoya to be Ralf Schumacher's partner in 2001 while BMW produced a brand new engine. The result was very competitive and Schumacher scored three victories as Montoya learned the ropes. By the end of the year however Montoya was leading the attack. The Story continues.......

 

                                                             

 

 

 

 

     

This site was last updated 10/25/02