1983 Williams FW08C

The Lotus Type 78 and its successor, the Type 79, introduced the necessity for ground efforts. The Type 79 was a dominate force during most of its racing career - the Type 80 did not live up to expectation so the Lotus Team reverted back to the Type 79 for another season and by this time most of the competition had caught up with the racer. Many of the designs of the Formula One racers for the 1979 and 1980 season mimicked the design of the Lotus cars. The Williams FW07, in similar fashion, followed this trend. It was designed by Patrick Head, and just had been the case with the Lotus cars, was designed in the same wind tunnel at Imperial College London. It was small, low to the ground, lightweight, and powered by a Ford/Cosworth DFV (double four-valve) engine. The engine had been introduced in 1967 for Colin Chapman's Team Lotus. It was a three-liter V8 capable of producing 400 horsepower. Its horsepower output continued to increase for the years to come; by the time it was finally retired, it was producing over 500 horsepower. The FW07 had a very small monocoque chassis; drivers had to wiggle and twist their feet forward just to reach the pedals.

Their sponsorship was from Saudia Arabian Airlines who began their relationship with the team in 1978 with the FW06 car. The team tied for an eleventh-place finish in 1978, which they shared with the Arrows team, in the constructors championship.

The FW07 was not ready in time for the opener of the 1979 season, so the team used the outdated FW06 racer instead. At the inaugural debut of the FW07 at Zolder midway through the 1979 season, it was piloted by Alan Jones and Clay Regazzoni, and was the fastest machine on the track until it was retired from the race due to mechanical difficulties. At Monaco, Jones was on pace with the lead cars before he clipped the wall and forced to retire. At Dijon, Jones finished in fourth place; he may have finished higher in the pack but was riding on unsuitable tyres. The first Grand Prix win for the Williams Team came at Silverstone in 1979 driven by Regazzoni. Jones may have taken the victory in his car, but was forced to retire. This was a very historic accomplishment for the team who had been in F1 competition for the previous 11 years. Jones went on to win four out of the next five races. Had the team been able to have more success with the car earlier in the season, they more than certainly would have finished the season in first place. Instead, they finished in second with 75 points, behind Ferrari.

In 1980, Regazzoni was replaced by Carlos Reutemann. During the season, Reutemann won at Monaco and Jones won five races in Argentina, France, Britain, Canada and the USA. Jones went on to win his first and only world championship. The main competition for the year came from Brabham and their BT49 car piloted by Nelson Piquet. Still, the Williams team was able to hold off the competition and finished the season with their first constructors' championship.

In 1981 the team introduced the FW07B which would earn the team another constructors' championship with 120 points. Work continued on the FW07 to keep it competitive, conform to request from its drivers, and to adhere to changing FIA regulations. This resulted in the FW07C. Reutemann drove the car to another victory at Monaco and scored eight podium finishes earning him third in the Championship. The team finished second in the constructors championship.

Jones did not return to Williams in 1982 and the team took on Keke Rosberg. The FW08 was introduced in early 1982.

During the racing career of the FW07, of which there were five constructed, they had earned 300 points, 15 wins, one driver's and two constructors title for the Williams Team.

The Williams FW08 was designed by Patrick Head and comprised of an aluminum honeycomb chassis and the proven running gear of the FW07. In the front was the distinctive stubby nose, most likely the result of intensive aerodynamic work done by Frank Dernie in Williams' wind tunnel. The car proved to be fast but awarded Rosberg only one race victory which occurred at the Swiss Grand Prix at Dijon. In Austria, Rosberg lost by only a few meters to Elio de Angelis. Though he won only one race, reliability and consistency led to him being crowned the World Champion. No driver managed more than two victories during the 1982 season.

The Williams FW08C was raced during the 1983 season. It finished 19 of the 29 races that they were entered providing one overall win and two podium finishes.


By Daniel Vaughan | Jan 2007



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France Jacques-Henri Laffite
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