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Williams F1, Wikipedia

 

WilliamsF1,  Wikipedia

WilliamsF1, formerly Williams Grand Prix Engineering, is a Formula 1 (F1) motor racing team formed and run by Sir Frank Williams and Patrick Head.

After two earlier F1 operations, Frank Williams Racing Cars and Walter Wolf Racing, Williams founded Williams Grand Prix Engineering in 1977. The team became very successful during the 1980s and 1990s, winning nine F1 Constructors' Championships and seven Drivers' Championships and becoming one of the so-called F1 "Big Three" teams (who have achieved over 100 race victories) alongside Ferrari and McLaren.

Founding and early years
Frank Williams had been running various operations in Formula 1 prior to creating his own team in 1977. After meeting Patrick Head, the two formed what was then called Williams Grand Prix Engineering, now WilliamsF1. The team debuted in the 1977 Spanish Grand Prix, fielding a March 761 for Patrick Neve, and contested most of the European and North American rounds that year. In 1978 Head designed the team's first car - the FW06, FW of course being the initals of the team's founder, who had used the FW01-FW05 numbers in his previous teams Frank Williams Racing Cars and Walter Wolf Racing prior to the formation of Williams Grand Prix. In the following year, now with the ground effect FW07, had their first victory at the British Grand Prix with Clay Regazzoni, with teammate Alan Jones claiming the victory in the following three races. Their first FIA Formula 1 World Drivers' Championship came in 1980 through Jones. 1981 saw the team lose the title because of inner strife between Jones and his teammate Carlos Reutemann, but in the 1982 Keke Rosberg captured the title with a single win, in a season that saw 11 different drivers score victories.

Honda Engines
Initially the team began with the ubiquitous Ford-Cosworth DFV engine until the second half of the 1983 season, when the team secured the support of Honda Motor Corporation, dominating the sport in 1986 season and 1987 season, securing both Constructors Championships, but failing to claim the Drivers Champion in 1986, after Nigel Mansell suffered a tyre blowout in the final stages of the Australian Grand Prix. This was an interesting time in F1, since the lack of electronic aids and the superlative power delivered by the engines were making the sport a very risky activity, as the Honda engines were reported to deliver up to 1100 BHP in qualifying. Nelson Piquet made up for Mansell's bad luck in 1986 by winning the title the following year. A contractual dispute with Honda (related primarily to the selection of drivers) saw the team lose the Japanese engines, and the team made do with the uncompetitive Judd engines for 1988 season.

Dominance with Renault
The team secured engine supply from Renault Sport in 1989. Renault engines subsequently powered Williams drivers to another four Drivers' Championships 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".

He was replaced by the Renault-friendly Alain Prost who retained both titles again winning pole position for many races. Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve were able to win the World Drivers' Championship in 1996 and 1997

It was during this period of dominance that the team's worst disaster also occurred. In 1994, on the weekend of the San Marino Grand Prix, the third round of that year's Championship, three times World Champion Ayrton Senna suffered a fatal accident during the race, in only his third race for the team. The repercussions of this fatal accident were severe for the team itself, as the Italian government tried to prosecute the team and Frank Williams through the Italian courts, an episode which wasn't over until 2005. (Since his death all Williams F1 cars have carried a tribute to Senna in the form of his official logo on the front wing supports).


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 (old, rebadged Renaults). From 1994 to 1997 the cars ran in the highly distinctive blue and white Rothmans livery, widely regarded as one of F1's most popular colour schemes. There were changes on the sponsorship front however as Rothmans opted to promote their Winfield brand. For 1998 and 1999 the cars were an unfamiliar red and white colour. They were also on an unfamiliar position on the racetrack, as they struggled to keep up with the competition following the departure of Renault and Newey.


Partnership with BMW
In 1998, the team signed a long term agreement with BMW, with BMW supplying engines and expertise for a period of 10 years. As part of the deal BMW expected at least one driver to be German and Ralf Schumacher was signed. 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 Juan Pablo Montoya as a proven racer for the 2000 season but he was initially unavailable and Jenson Button made his debut instead. In 2001 Button was replaced by Montoya. The BMW.WilliamsF1 relationship resulted in 10 race victories in five years, the last one being Juan Pablo Montoya's victory at the 2004 Brazilian GP at Interlagos.

Montoya set the pace for the team during his three seasons and was in contention for the Driver's Championship for most of the 2003 season. 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 un-competitive and was replaced by a more conventional assembly in the second half of the year.

For the 2005 season, Schumacher and Montoya moved to Toyota and McLaren respectively. Taking their places were Mark Webber and Nick Heidfeld. Initially Jenson Button was to have driven for Williams in 2005, but an FIA ruling forced Button to remain with his current team BAR. Nick Heidfeld competed with Brazillian test driver Antônio Pizzonia for the remaining racing seat during December 2004 and January 2005, and Heidfeld was chosen, partly in deference to BMW's wishes for a German driver. 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 WilliamsF1 team's inability to create a package capable of winning the constructors championship, or even multiple victories within a single season. Williams, on the other hand, blamed BMW for not producing a good enough engine. Williams' failed attempt to prise Jenson Button out of his BAR contract may also have been an issue with Theissen, as his preference was to have at least one German driver in the team. 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. This public deterioration of the relationship between BMW and WilliamsF1 eventually resulted in the decision by BMW Motorsport to buy Sauber and rebrand that team to feature the BMW name.

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. In the end, though, WilliamsF1 opted for Cosworth V8 engines for 2006.

This period 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". 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.

This "clean" image allowed Williams to sign a cigarette anti-craving brand, NiQuitin, and Anheuser-Busch, alternating with the Budweiser beer brand and Sea World Adventure Parks (in compliance with trademark disputes or alcohol bans).

2006
 
In late 2005, WilliamsF1 and Cosworth announced a partnership agreement for the 2006 season where Cosworth will supply WilliamsF1 with engines, transmissions and associated electronics and software. Cosworth have more experience in building V8 racing engines required by the 2006 Formula One regulations, than any other current F1 engine manufacturer and also have some history with Williams, being the engine suppler that the team started out with (and won the 1980 and 1982 championships with). On September 14, 2005 it was announced that the long running sponsorship agreement between WilliamsF1 and Hewlett Packard (HP) would be concluded one year before the official end of the contract.

Although neither Williams or HP offered any reason for the early termination some observers have speculated the loss of the title sponsor may be a result of continuing uncertainty over driver lineup for 2006. Despite having signed a contract to race for Williams, Jenson Button decided that he would prefer 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.

Current Williams sponsors are Anheuser-Busch (with Budweiser or SeaWorld Adventure Parks, depending on the race, as some countries have trademark disputes over the Budweiser brand, or in Bahrain, Turkey, and France, a ban on alcohol advertising), Royal Bank of Scotland, or Allianz. Williams introduced a new interim livery for use during Winter testing - the car was predominantely midnight blue, and featured the white chevrons used as a logo on Frank Williams Racing cars in the late 1960s-early 1970s. Remaining Williams sponsors such as Petrobras and FedEx were all represented on the interim livery. Williams have also announced that Dutch giant Philips will join the team as a sponsor for 2006, although the amount for this deal has not been reported. TATA is also another sponsor of the team. The Indian car company signed a contract several hours after Narain Karthikeyan was announced as test driver.

Mark Webber is under contract to the team for 2006, and will remain. He will be partnered by Nico Rosberg (son of Keke). Williams are entitled to use a third car on the Friday of a race weekend because they finished lower than 4th in the Constructor's Championship in 2005. On the 2nd of January, the team confirmed that Alex Wurz became the team's official test and reserve driver for the 2006 season. Williams tried a number of drivers for that role during the winter testing in 2005 including Andy Priaulx and Narain Karthikeyan but opted for Alex Wurz who brings a lot of experience having raced with Benetton for 4 years and filling the official test driver role for McLaren from 2001 until 2005. On the 27th of January, the team announced the signing of Narain Karthikeyan as the team's fourth driver for 2006.

Although they aren't using BMW engines, Cosworth engines are running better than the team expected, the team shows more strong and competitive than the new BMW's team. Driver Nico Rosberg scored 2 points by finishing 7th at the 2006 Bahrain Grand Prix, being his first Grand Prix, and at the same event he made the fastest lap. Meanwhile Mark Webber scored also 3 points finishing 6th, in front of Rosberg. Alex Wurz, the another driver of Williams is also making good performances finishing on the first three positions in the free practice sessions.

Other Motorsport
Williams has been involved in a few motorsport activities outside Formula One.

In 1980 Williams were commissioned by Rover to create a Rally car from the Metro hatchback. They shoe-horned a V6 engine (a completely new design, not at all based on the Rover V8 engine as is sometimes stated) to create the 4 wheel drive, mid-engined Metro 6R4, to the international Group B rallying regulations. Williams developed the car in just six months.
Williams, under the name Williams Touring Car Engineering, also ran Renault's team for the British Touring Car Championship from 1995-1999. The Renault Laguna based cars were produced at Williams' Didcot factory (the Formula One team having recently moved to new premises at Grove). The touring car venture was very successful, Williams-Renault won the Manufacturers title in 1995 and 1997 and the BTCC drivers title with Alain Menu in 1997.
Prior to their F1 partnership, Williams built a Le Mans racecar for BMW, the BMW V12. This won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1999.
As part of their partnership with Renault, several Renault Sport models of their Clio range have been branded with the Williams marque.

Article Index

Williams F1, Williams F1 Team
Williams F1, the company 
Williams F1, 30 years in F1
Williams F1, 2007 review
Williams F1, building the FW28
Williams F1, vision
Williams F1, Wikipedia

 

Last Updated on Monday, 11 February 2008 22:46
 

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