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
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
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
asked him to build cars for them. He hired Len Bailey and with Maurice
Gomm in Woking doing the fabrication work, produced the Politoys-
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
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.
decided he had enough and left the team. He managed to convince several
of his old team to join him, notably designer Patrick
and the pair established Williams Grand Prix Engineering and announced
that they would be running an old March for
with sponsorship from Belle-Vue beer. The team moved into a huge old
carpet warehouse in Station Road, Didcot.
designed the new FW07 and Williams hired
Clay Regazzoni to partner
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
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
however, decided to move to McLaren and Williams signed
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
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
to Mclaren and
Williams found itself facing a future with Judd
Piquet moved to Lotus and
Riccardo Patrese was hired to partner
1988. The package was not exceptional but Mansell twice finished second.
At the end of the year, however, he signed for
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.
dropped and Mansell returned to Williams. In 1991 the team began winning again
with Mansell collecting five victories and Patrese two
won the Constructors' title with Ayrton Senna taking the Driver's crown but in 1992 there was no stopping Mansell in
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
For 1993 Alain Prost replaced
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
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
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
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
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
At the end of 1997 Renault withdrew from F1, leaving Williams to use
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
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
Williams hired Michaels younger sibling
Ralf Schumacher and CART champion
The cars were not competitive in 1999 with rebadged
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
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.
then made the difficult decision to place Button at
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