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Frank Williams Racing Cars
Full name Frank Williams Racing Cars
Base
Founder(s) United Kingdom Frank Williams
Noted drivers United Kingdom Piers Courage
France Jacques Laffite
Belgium Jacky Ickx
Formula One World Championship career
Debut 1969 Spanish Grand Prix
Races competed
Constructors' Championships 0
Drivers' Championships 0
Race victories 0
Pole positions 0
Fastest laps 0
Final race 1976 Japanese Grand Prix
Piers Courage in a Frank Williams Racing Cars customer Brabham BT26A at the 1969 British Grand Prix
Not to be confused with Williams Grand Prix Engineering, formed by Frank Williams and Patrick Head in 1977 and known today as WilliamsF1.

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

Contents

Early years

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' 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, including second place at the 1969 Monaco and US Grands Prix.

Their efforts attracted the interest of Argentine sports car manufacturer De Tomaso, who built a Formula One chassis (designed by Gian Paolo 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 Frank 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 Tim Schenken. With no results, the partnership with De Tomaso was dissolved.

For 1971, Williams purchased a year-old March 701, and ran Henri Pescarolo. The team 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 took the fourth spot at the British Grand Prix and sixth at the Austrian Grand Prix, keeping the outfit ticking over.

Williams as constructor

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Politoys

Oil company Motul came onboard for the 1972 season, enabling Williams to buy a new March, while backing from toy manufacturer Politoys meant money to build an in-house chassis. From the (non-Championship) Brazilian Grand Prix, Carlos Pace was entered in the old 1971 car, later taking fifth at the Belgian Grand Prix. The Len Bailey-designed Politoys FX3 debuted in the hands of Pescarolo at the British Grand Prix, but the steering failed and the car was heavily damaged. Chris Amon would guest in the end of season non-Championship Rothmans World Championship Victory Race at Brands Hatch, but unimpressed with the chassis, elected not to start.

Iso-Marlboro

Motul and Politoys both withdrew their backing at the end of the year. Williams managed to attract backing from cigarette giant Marlboro and fridge manufacturer Iso for the 1973 season, with the FX3 reworked as the Iso-Marlboro FX3B. Two new drivers were signed, Howden Ganley and Nanni Galli. Local Jackie Pretorius would sub for Galli in the South African Grand Prix. For the Spanish Grand Prix, a new car, the Iso-Marlboro IR, was introduced, designed by John Clarke. However, results failed to improve. Galli moved on after the Monaco Grand Prix, being replaced by a succession of paying drivers - Tom Belsø for the Swedish Grand Prix, then the returning Pescarolo for the French Grand Prix, then Graham McRae for the British Grand Prix. Gijs van Lennep took over the pay car for the Dutch Grand Prix, taking 6th place and the team's first point of the season. Pescarolo and Van Lennep briefly alternated in the second car, before Schenken took over for the Canadian Grand Prix. The Canadian race, however, saw Williams attract a lot more attention. A downpour and a crash led to the first-ever deployment of a safety car in Formula One. With no electronic timekeeping devices, the organisers were left with written lap charts to work out the leader of the race, something made near-impossible by most cars making two or more pit stops in the space of a couple of laps. They came to the incorrect decision that Ganley was actually leading, despite Frank Williams and everyone else saying he wasn't. Ganley then astonishingly led off the leading lights for a while when the race restarted (though the FIA official lap charts do not acknowledge this, due to the confusion), and he eventually finished sixth. Jacky Ickx took the second car in the US Grand Prix.

Williams

Both Iso and Marlboro left before the 1974 season. The IR chassis was rebranded the FW (a segue - three of these were used, named FW01, FW02 and FW03 - these are chassis numbers, not car models... the next new Williams design would be the FW04). Initially a single car was entered for Arturo Merzario, who placed sixth at South Africa. Tom Belsø returned in a second car from this race and the next, before Van Lennep returned for the Belgian race. The team then cut back down to a single car for Merzario for the British Grand Prix, before entering three cars in Sweden, Belso and Richard Robarts taking the other two. Gijs van Lennep took over the second car for the Dutch Grand Prix, with the third dropped. Jean-Pierre Jabouille took over the second car in France, with Belso guesting at the British round. Jacques Laffite then took the second car for the German Grand Prix, impressing enough to be kept on. For all the chopping and changing, Merzario's point from the South African race was the only point the team had to show for their efforts.

Merzario and Laffite stayed on for 1975. For the Spanish Grand Prix, promising youngster Tony Brise briefly replaced Laffite, placing 7th, while Merzario gave a race debut to the new FW04. Merzario left following the Belgian Grand Prix, being replaced by Ian Scheckter, while financial concerns saw Damien Magee briefly taking Laffite's car for the Swedish Grand Prix. Scheckter's money ran out after two races, and he was briefly replaced by François Migault. So far the season had been the usual mess of pay drivers, mechanical failures and no progress, but a mix of attrition and tenacious driving saw Laffite take an astonishing second place at the German Grand Prix, bringing much-needed financial aid to a team on the point of collapse. However, it would be the only points finish of the season, and the second car continued to have a succession of pay drivers - Ian Ashley (in Germany), Jo Vonlanthen (in Austria), Renzo Zorzi (in Italy) and Lella Lombardi (in the US).

Association with Walter Wolf

At the start of the 1976 season, Frank Williams Racing Cars was bought out by oil millionaire Walter Wolf, becoming Walter Wolf Racing and initially inheriting the Hesketh 308C cars. Frank Williams became increasingly unhappy with his role in the team and eventually departed to form Williams Grand Prix Engineering.

Complete Formula One World Championship results

(key)

Year Chassis/Engine/
Tyres
Drivers 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Points WCC
1969 Brabham BT26A
Cosworth V8
D
RSA ESP MON NED FRA GBR GER ITA CAN USA MEX 16 -
United Kingdom Courage Ret 2 Ret Ret 5 Ret 5 Ret 2 10
1970 De Tomaso 505-38
Cosworth V8
D
RSA ESP MON BEL NED FRA GBR GER AUT ITA CAN USA MEX 0 -
United Kingdom Courage Ret DNS NC Ret Ret
United Kingdom Redman DNS DNQ
Australia Schenken Ret Ret NC Ret
1971 March 701 March 711
Cosworth V8
G
RSA ESP MON NED FRA GBR GER AUT ITA CAN USA 4 -
France Pescarolo 11 Ret 8 NC Ret 4 Ret 6 Ret DNS Ret
France Jean NC
1972 March 711 March 721
Politoys FX3
Cosworth V8
G
ARG RSA ESP MON BEL FRA GBR GER AUT ITA CAN USA 3 -
France Pescarolo 8 11 11 Ret NC DNS Ret Ret DNS DNQ 13 14
Brazil Pace 17 6 17 5 Ret Ret NC NC Ret 9 Ret
1973 Iso-Marlboro FX3B
Iso-Marlboro IR
Cosworth V8
F
ARG BRA RSA ESP BEL MON SWE FRA GBR NED GER AUT ITA CAN USA 2 10th
New Zealand Ganley NC 7 10 Ret Ret Ret 11 14 9 9 DNS NC NC 6 12
Italy Galli Ret 9 11 Ret Ret
South Africa Pretorius Ret
Denmark Belsø DNS
France Pescarolo Ret 10
New Zealand McRae Ret
Netherlands van Lennep 6 9 Ret
Australia Schenken 14
Belgium Ickx 9
1974 Williams FW
Cosworth V8
F
ARG BRA RSA ESP BEL MON SWE NED FRA GBR GER AUT ITA CAN USA 4 10th
Italy Merzario Ret Ret 6 Ret Ret Ret Ret 9 Ret Ret Ret 4 Ret Ret
Denmark Belsø Ret DNQ 8 DNQ
Netherlands van Lennep 14 DNQ
United Kingdom Robarts DNS
France Jabouille DNQ
France Laffite Ret NC Ret 15 Ret
1975 Williams FW
Williams FW04
Cosworth V8
G
ARG BRA RSA ESP MON BEL SWE NED FRA GBR GER AUT ITA USA 6 9th
Italy Merzario NC Ret Ret Ret DNQ Ret
France Laffite Ret 11 NC DNQ Ret Ret 11 Ret 2 Ret Ret DNS
United Kingdom Brise 7
United Kingdom Magee 14
South Africa I Scheckter Ret 12
France Migault DNS
United Kingdom Ashley DNA DNS
Switzerland Vonlanthen Ret
Italy Zorzi 14
Italy Lombardi DNS
1976 Williams FW
Williams FW04
Wolf-Williams FW05
Cosworth V8
G
BRA RSA USW ESP BEL MON SWE FRA GBR GER AUT NED ITA CAN USE JPN 0 -
Belgium Ickx 8 16 DNQ 7 DNQ DNQ 10 DNQ
Italy Zorzi 9
France Leclere 13 DNQ 10 11 11 Ret 13
Spain Zapico DNQ
Denmark Belsø DNA
Italy Merzario Ret Ret Ret DNS Ret Ret Ret
Switzerland Kessel DNA
New Zealand Amon DNS
Australia Brown 14
Austria Binder Ret

Simple English

in a Frank Williams Racing Cars customer Brabham BT26A at the 1969 British Grand Prix]]

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


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