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Frank Williams Racing Cars
Frank Williams Racing Cars Historical logo.jpg
Full name Frank Williams Racing Cars
Founder(s) Frank Williams
Noted drivers
Next name Walter Wolf Racing
Formula One World Championship career
First entry 1969 Spanish Grand Prix
Races entered 105 (96 starts)
Race victories 0
Pole positions 0
Fastest laps 1
Final entry 1976 Japanese Grand Prix

Frank Williams Racing Cars was a British Formula One team and constructor.

Early years

1969 British Grand Prix P Courage Brabham BT26 close
Piers Courage in a Williams entered Brabham BT26A at the 1969 British Grand Prix.

Frank Williams had been a motor-racing enthusiast since a young age, and after a career in saloon cars and Formula Three, backed by Williams's shrewd instincts as a dealer in racing cars and spares, he realised he'd reached his peak as a driver and started entering other drivers, in particular his friend and sometime flatmate Piers Courage. After Williams backed Courage in a successful 1968 Formula Two season, he purchased a Brabham Formula One car for Courage in 1969. This allegedly angered Jack Brabham, as the car had been sold to Williams with the expectation that it would be used in the Tasman Series and then converted to Formula 5000. Courage in fact had a great year, taking second place at both the Monaco and US Grands Prix.

Their efforts attracted the interest of Italian sports car manufacturer De Tomaso, who built a Formula One chassis (designed by Giampaolo Dallara) for the 1970 season. However, the car was initially uncompetitive, failing to finish the first four races of the year. In the fifth, the Dutch Grand Prix, the De Tomaso 505/38 flipped and caught fire, killing Courage. The death of his friend seriously upset Williams; the subsequent distance the team principal placed between himself and his drivers has been attributed to this event. The team soldiered on, however, first with Brian Redman, then with Tim Schenken. With no results, the partnership with De Tomaso was dissolved.

For 1971, Williams purchased a year-old March 701, and ran Frenchman Henri Pescarolo. The team later upgraded to a new March 711, but results were difficult to come by. The old car was also entered for Max Jean at the French Grand Prix. After the success of 1969, Williams was now low on funds, living a hand-to-mouth existence from race to race. Pescarolo did, however, keep the outfit ticking over with fourth place at the British Grand Prix and sixth in Austria.

Frank Williams Racing Cars (1969–1975)

Politoys and the FX3

French oil company Motul came on board for the 1972 season, enabling Williams to buy a new March 721 for Pescarolo, while backing from Italian toy manufacturer Politoys provided money to build an in-house chassis. From the (non-Championship) Brazilian Grand Prix, Carlos Pace was entered in the previous year's March 711, later taking fifth at the Belgian Grand Prix.

The Len Bailey-designed Politoys FX3 was a conventional Cosworth-engined car with a Hewland FG400 gearbox. It debuted in the hands of Pescarolo at the British Grand Prix, but the steering failed and the car was heavily damaged. Pescarolo switched back to his March 721 while the Politoys was rebuilt. In its last appearance as the Politoys FX3, Chris Amon drove the car for the team in the end of season non-Championship 1972 World Championship Victory Race at Brands Hatch, but qualified only 20th and retired with engine failure.

Iso–Marlboro and the FX3B

Motul and Politoys both withdrew their backing at the end of 1972, but Williams managed to attract backing from cigarette giant Marlboro and Italian sports car manufacturer Iso Autoveicoli S.p.A. for the 1973 season. The Politoys FX3 was reworked as the Iso–Marlboro FX3B and a second car was built. Two new drivers were signed, New Zealand's Howden Ganley and Italy's Nanni Galli.

At the first race in Argentina, Galli qualified 16th with Ganley 19th and last on the grid. Galli's engine failed on the first lap, but Ganley finished the race, although he was not classified due to being 17 laps adrift of the winner. The team fared better in Brazil with Ganley finishing seventh and Galli ninth. Galli was then injured testing a sports car and replaced for the following race in South Africa by local driver Jackie Pretorius. Pretorius retired his FX3B at half-distance with overheating problems, but Ganley managed tenth, albeit six laps down.

The FX3B had become obsolete by this time due to new deformable structure regulations and was replaced by the new Iso–Marlboro IR. However, the FX3B was raced in two non-Championship races at this time; at the 1973 Race of Champions, Tony Trimmer raced an FX3B to fourth place while Ganley retired his car with handling problems. The New Zealander also retired at the FX3B's last race, the 1973 BRDC International Trophy, this time with low oil pressure.

Iso–Marlboro IR, FW and first Williams

Van Lennep at 1974 Dutch Grand Prix (3)
Gijs van Lennep in the Iso–Marlboro FW at the 1974 Dutch Grand Prix

Introduced at the 1973 Spanish Grand Prix, the Iso–Marlboro IR was driven by eight different drivers during the rest of the 1973 season. Ganley was the only regular driver and he scored a point with the car at the Canadian Grand Prix towards the end of the season. Of the other drivers; Galli, Pescarolo, Tom Belsø, Graham McRae, Gijs van Lennep, Tim Schenken and Jacky Ickx, only van Lennep was able to score a point, at his home race in the Netherlands.

Both Iso Rivolta and Marlboro left before the 1974 season, leaving Williams with financial problems. The two IR chassis were retained, now re-designated the FW after Frank Williams, but initially only a single car was entered for Arturo Merzario, who had replaced Ganley as the team's number one driver. There was an early-season boost as Merzario placed sixth in the third race of the season in South Africa, but when the second car was reintroduced, the string of paydrivers employed to drive it produced little in the way of results. After three non-qualifications, Jacques Laffite was brought in to partner Merzario and performances gradually improved, culminating in a fourth-place finish for Merzario in Italy. This gave the team a total of four points, and another tenth-place finish in the Constructors' Championship. Three Iso–Marlboro FW chassis were ultimately used during 1974, including a newly built car, and these were renamed Williams FW01, FW02 and FW03 for 1975; separate designations despite the three cars being essentially the same.

Merzario and Laffite stayed on for the start of the 1975 season as the team continued to use the FW02 and FW03. Williams decided a new car was needed. The new Williams FW04 was the first chassis to carry the Williams name and it replaced the FW02 at the Spanish Grand Prix, and promising British youngster Tony Brise substituted for Laffite, finishing just outside the points in seventh. By this time, however, the team's money problems had become serious, and Merzario left following the Belgian Grand Prix, his place taken for the rest of the season by six different paying drivers – Ian Scheckter, François Migault, Ian Ashley, Jo Vonlanthen, Renzo Zorzi and Lella Lombardi. Northern Ireland's Damien Magee, meanwhile, substituted for Laffite in Sweden.

Around the same time, Frank Williams signed a young engineer, Patrick Head who would partner with his boss when the team reformed as Williams Grand Prix Engineering in 1977. A major shock came in Germany when a mixture of attrition and tenacious driving saw Laffite take the FW04 to second place behind the Brabham of Carlos Reutemann, bringing much-needed financial aid to a team on the point of collapse. This was to be the team's only points finish of the season, but they improved their position in the Constructors' Championship by one place, to ninth.

Wolf–Williams Racing (1976)

Before the start of the 1976 season, Canadian oil millionaire Walter Wolf bought 60% of Frank Williams Racing Cars and the team became Wolf–Williams Racing. However, Frank Williams was retained as team manager. Soon afterwards, Harvey Postlethwaite arrived as chief engineer. Simultaneously Wolf bought the assets of the Hesketh team that had recently withdrawn from F1. The team was based in the Williams facility at Reading but used most of the cars and equipment once owned by Hesketh Racing. The team inherited the Hesketh 308C car used by Hesketh Racing during the final races of 1975, rebranding it as the Wolf–Williams FW05 and the Williams FW04 was similarly rebranded as the Wolf–Williams FW04, although it was only used in the opening race of the season, the 1976 Brazilian Grand Prix.

At season's end, Wolf decided to restructure the team, removing Frank Williams from the manager's job. Disillusioned, Williams left the team altogether, to set up Williams Grand Prix Engineering with Patrick Head in 1977. Wolf bought 100% of Wolf–Williams Racing and the team became Walter Wolf Racing.

Complete Formula One World Championship results


Year Chassis Engine Tyres Drivers 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 WCC Points
1969 Brabham BT26A Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 D RSA ESP MON NED FRA GBR GER ITA CAN USA MEX N/A N/A
United Kingdom Piers Courage Ret 2 Ret Ret 5 Ret 5 Ret 2 10
Brabham BT30 Ford Cosworth FVA 1.6 L4 United Kingdom Richard Attwood 6
1970 De Tomaso 505 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 D RSA ESP MON BEL NED FRA GBR GER AUT ITA CAN USA MEX N/A N/A
United Kingdom Piers Courage Ret DNS NC Ret Ret
United Kingdom Brian Redman DNS DNQ
Australia Tim Schenken Ret Ret NC Ret
1971 March 701
March 711
France Henri Pescarolo 11 Ret 8 NC Ret 4 Ret 6 Ret DNS Ret
France Max Jean NC
1972 March 711
March 721
Brazil Carlos Pace 17 6 17 5 Ret Ret NC NC Ret 9 Ret
France Henri Pescarolo 8 11 11 Ret NC DNS Ret DNS DNQ 13 14
Politoys FX3 Ret NC 0
1973 Iso–Marlboro FX3B
Iso–Marlboro IR
New Zealand Howden Ganley NC 7 10 Ret Ret Ret 11 14 9 9 DNS NC NC 6 12
Italy Nanni Galli Ret 9 11 Ret Ret
South Africa Jackie Pretorius Ret
Denmark Tom Belsø DNS
France Henri Pescarolo Ret 10
New Zealand Graham McRae Ret
Netherlands Gijs van Lennep 6 9 Ret
Australia Tim Schenken 14
Belgium Jacky Ickx 7
1974 Iso–Marlboro FW Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 F ARG BRA RSA ESP BEL MON SWE NED FRA GBR GER AUT ITA CAN USA 10th 4
Italy Arturo Merzario Ret Ret 6 Ret Ret Ret DNS Ret 9 Ret Ret Ret 4 Ret Ret
United Kingdom Richard Robarts DNS
Denmark Tom Belsø Ret DNQ 8 DNQ
Netherlands Gijs van Lennep 14 DNQ
France Jean-Pierre Jabouille DNQ
France Jacques Laffite Ret NC Ret 15 Ret
1975 Williams FW
Williams FW04
Italy Arturo Merzario NC Ret Ret Ret DNQ Ret
United Kingdom Damien Magee 14
France François Migault DNS
United Kingdom Ian Ashley DNS
Switzerland Jo Vonlanthen Ret
Italy Renzo Zorzi 14
Italy Lella Lombardi DNS
France Jacques Laffite Ret 11 NC DNQ Ret Ret 11 Ret 2 Ret Ret DNS
United Kingdom Tony Brise 7
South Africa Ian Scheckter Ret 12
1976 Wolf–Williams FW04
Wolf–Williams FW05
Belgium Jacky Ickx 8 16 DNQ 7 DNQ DNQ 10 DNQ
Italy Arturo Merzario Ret Ret Ret DNS Ret Ret Ret
Italy Renzo Zorzi 9
France Michel Leclère 13 DNQ 10 11 11 Ret 13
New Zealand Chris Amon DNS
Australia Warwick Brown 14
Austria Hans Binder Ret
Japan Masami Kuwashima DNS
Williams FW04 Spain Emilio Zapico DNQ NC 0

Non-championship results


Year Chassis Engine Driver 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
1969 Brabham BT26A Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 ROC INT MAD OUL
United Kingdom Piers Courage Ret 5
1970 De Tomaso 505 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 ROC INT OUL
United Kingdom Piers Courage 3
Australia Tim Schenken DNA
1971 March 701 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 ARG ROC QUE SPR INT RIN OUL VIC
United Kingdom Ray Allen 6 Ret
United Kingdom Derek Bell 15
United Kingdom Cyd Williams DNS
United Kingdom Tony Trimmer Ret
France Henri Pescarolo 2
March 711 Ret 6 DNA Ret Ret
Sweden Ronnie Peterson Ret
1972 March 711 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 ROC BRA INT OUL REP VIC
Brazil Carlos Pace Ret
France Henri Pescarolo Ret
March 721 Ret Ret Ret
Politoys FX3 New Zealand Chris Amon Ret
1973 Iso–Marlboro FX3B
Iso–Marlboro IR
Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 ROC INT
United Kingdom Tony Trimmer 4
New Zealand Howden Ganley Ret Ret
1974 Iso–Marlboro FW Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 PRE ROC INT
Italy Arturo Merzario 3
1975 Williams FW03 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 ROC INT SUI
Italy Arturo Merzario 7 DNS
Italy Maurizio Flammini DNS
France Jacques Laffite 11
Switzerland Jo Vonlanthen Ret
1976 Wolf–Williams FW05 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 ROC INT
Belgium Jacky Ickx 3 Ret
United States Mario Andretti 7

See also

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