Thursday, 15 November 2007 11:33
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
Dominance with Renault
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).
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 AntÃ´nio 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.
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).
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 Â£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.
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.
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