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Start United States GP
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To teams

Williams Racing

Nicholas Latifi & George Russell
Nationality gbr Brittish
Home base Grove, Verenigd Koningkrijk
Active since 1977
Teamboss Claire Williams

F1 season 2021

WC Position 8
WC points 23.0
Podiums 1
Pole positions 0

F1 history

World titles 9
WC Points 3583
Podiums 313
Pole positions 128

After a few years in the doldrums, the Williams Formula 1 team seems to be on a precipice of change. Jost Capito joins as the team’s new CEO, with George Russell and Nicholas Latifi staying on for a further year. However, 2021 will mark the first year where a member of the Williams family is no longer associated with the team.

Origins

Although the current Williams team started back in 1977, its roots date back to the 1960s when Frank Williams created Frank Williams Racing Cars. The team failed to achieve much success even after Canadian millionaire Walter Wolf entree the scene in 1976 and the team was rebranded as Wolf-Williams Racing.

Wolf opted to rename the team Walter Wolf Racing and remove Williams from his role as manager. This allowed Frank to move to Didcot and rebuild his team as Williams Grand Prix Engineering. Patrick Head co-founded the team and worked as technical director until 2004.

First F1 entry and rise up the ranks

Williams entered a custom March 761 for the 1977 season, with Patrick Neve driving the team's lone entry starting from the Spanish GP. The Belgian driver failed to score a point, his best finish being seventh at the Italian GP.

Head designed his first Williams car, the FW06, the following year with the team bringing in Alan Jones as their new driver. He scored the team's first points at the South African GP, finishing fourth. Jones improved on that at the US GP, bringing home Williams' first podium finish by coming home some 20 seconds behind Ferrari's Carlos Reutemann. The team finished the year ninth in the Constructors' Championship with 11 points.

Jones was joined by Clay Regazzoni as Williams opted to field two cars in 1979. The Swiss driver almost claimed the team's first win in Monaco but finished less than a second behind race winner Jody Scheckter. That elusive first win finally came at William's home race, the British GP, with Regazzoni finishing 25 seconds clear of the field.

That success continued at Hockenheim as Jones led the team's first one-two finish before making it three in a row for Williams at the Austrian GP. The streak extended to four as Jones won comfortably ahead of Scheckter at Zandvoort, however the Ferrari driver ended Williams' run by taking the chequered flag at the Italian GP. Jones added another win in Canada, finishing third in the Drivers' Championship behind champion Scheckter and Ferrari teammate Gilles Villeneuve while Williams ended the year second in the Constructors' Championship.

Reutemann partnered Jones in 1980, and the Australian wasted no time in taking the opening race of the season in Argentina. Jones won another four races, including the final two of the season in Canada and the USA to take the World Championship by 13 points over Brabham's Nelson Piquet. Williams also won its first Constructors' Championship with 120 points.

Jones and Reutemann combined for four wins the following year, and while both drivers finished behind champion Piquet in the Drivers' standings, Williams took the Constructors' Championship over Brabham. Jones retired in 1982, replaced by Keke Rosberg who failed to score a point the previous year. Nevertheless the Finn took the title despite only winning one race that season in Switzerland.

			© Williams   |   Rosberg in Monaco in 1982.
	© Williams | Rosberg in Monaco in 1982.

Honda engines

Frank Williams realised he needed the help of a major manufacturer to stay at the top of F1 and turned to Honda, who was developing a turbocharged V6 engine with the Spirit team.

Williams continued to use Ford power except for the final race in South Africa in 1983, however the full-time switch to Honda the following year proved unsuccessful. Rosberg won the Dallas GP with the FW09, however the team finished the year sixth with 25.5 points.

Now running with the yellow, blue and white Canon livery that stayed with the team until 1993, Head designed the FW10 in 1985 that used the carbon-fibre composite technology that McLaren pioneered. Nigel Mansell partnered Rosberg with both drivers winning two races each to help Williams finish third in the Constructors' Championship.

Frank Williams was involved in a road accident on the way to the airport following pre-season testing at Paul Ricard in March 1986. The incident left him paralysed from the waist down and he didn't return to the pit lane for almost a year. Despite his absence, Williams won nine races and took the Constructors' Championship. Mansell and Piquet just missed out on the Drivers' title, as the Briton suffered a left-rear tyre blowout at the season-ending Australian GP. Piquet was pitted as a precaution, allowing McLaren's Alain Prost to successfully defend his title.

Piquet secured Williams-Honda their only Drivers' Championship the following year in 1987, with the Brazilian winning three races and finishing 15 points ahead of teammate Mansell in the standings. Although Williams took another Constructors' title, Honda opted to end their partnership in favour of a return to McLaren and continuing with Lotus.

Renault engines

Without a major engine manufacturer, Williams switched to Judd engines in 1988. Piquet left for Lotus with Riccardo Patrese brought in as his replacement. The team failed to register a win and only scored 20 points.

Williams secured an engine supply from Renault in 1989, though Mansell left for Ferrari and was replaced by Thierry Boutsen. However the partnership got off to a rocky start with both the Belgian and Patrese retiring with engine issues. Boutsen secured Williams' first win with Renault power by leading a one-two finish in Canada. The Belgian also won in Australia however Patrese outscored him at season's end, while Williams finished second as a team.

The two drivers returned in 1990 however the lone bright spots were Patrese's win at the San Marino GP and Boutsen's pole in Hungary as Williams finished the year down in fourth. Mansell returned in 1991 after Boutsen left for Ligier, finishing second to McLaren's Ayrton Senna in the standings. The British driver took five victories while Patrese added another two to help Williams to a second place finish in the Constructors' Championship.

Williams dominate with Mansell then Prost

Mansell won the first five races of the 1992 season and didn't look back from there as the Williams FW14B proved to be too much for the rest of the grid. He finished the year with nine wins, becoming the first driver to do so in a single F1 season, while also becoming the first Briton to win the championship since James Hunt in 1976. Teammate Patrese finished second in the standings, a full 52 points back.

Despite the success there was upheaval at Williams prior to the 1993 campaign. Prost ended his year-long sabbatical while Senna's contract with McLaren was also ending, along with the team's deal with Honda. Both drivers were considered for a seat, however it went to the Frenchman which had a knock on effect. Patrese left for Benetton to partner Michael Schumacher, while Mansell refused to drive with Prost as the two were on poor terms from their brief time at Ferrari together.

Mansell left for Newman-Haas Racing in the CART Racing Series, while Prost had a provision put into his contract that gave him veto power on who the second driver at Williams was. He made it clear he did not want to race with Senna, who remained with McLaren for another year, again, and as a result Damon Hill was promoted from test driver.

The Williams FW15C proved to be a class above thanks to active suspension and traction control systems that were beyond what other teams had. Prost won his debut race for the team in South Africa, finishing a minute ahead of Senna. The Frenchman won seven of the opening 10 races while Hill won the other three, however Williams failed to win any of the final six races. As a result Prost took the title by 26 points over Senna, who overtook Hill in the standings while Williams cruised to an easy Constructors' title.

Prost retires, Senna steps in but tragedy strikes

Prost's veto powers on the other Williams seat was only valid for the 1993 season and as a result Senna was signed for 1994. Soon after the announcement, the Frenchman announced his retirement from motorsport.

Now sponsored by Rothmans International, Senna was the pre-season favourite given Williams' dominance the previous two years. However the FIA banned electronic driver's aids like active suspension, traction control and ABS which made the FW16 fast but difficult to drive.

As a result Williams no longer had the advantage that set them apart from the rest of the grid, with the Benetton-Ford showing in testing that while it wasn't as powerful a car, it was more nimble than the Williams.

Senna took pole at the opening two races but failed to finish either of them, with Schumacher winning both of them. The season took on a different dynamic at Round 3 in San Marino, as the Brazilian took pole once again but was involved in a fatal crash on Lap 6. At the following race in Monaco the team ran one car as a mark of respect to Senna.

Test driver David Coulthard was brought in as the Brazilian's replacement in Spain, which saw Hill capture the team's first victory of the season. Schumacher was disqualified from the Belgian GP and banned for the next two races, allowing Hill to edge closer in the championship fight.

Mansell replaced Coulthard for the final three races, while Schumacher entered the final race of the season with a one-point lead over Hill. However midway through the race the German clipped the outside of the wall at Turn 5. When Schumacher recovered Hill tried to make his way past, with the German turning into his rival and ending up in the wall. Hill's bent suspension forced him to retire as well, handing the title to the Benetton driver by one point. Williams would end the season with a third consecutive Constructors' Championship.

Coulthard became Hill's full-time teammate in 1995 however Williams were no match for the Benetton-Renault pairing. Schumacher won nine of the 17 races and won the championship by 33 points over Hill. While the two Williams driver finished the year second and third in the standings with a combined five wins, it wasn't enough to deny Benetton the Constructors' Championship.

Hill and Villeneuve add to Williams success

CART Series Champion Jacques Villeneuve joined the team in 1996 with Coulthard leaving for McLaren. The FW18 was the quickest car on the grid and as a result the championship battle was between the Canadian and Hill.

The Briton won four of the first five races, with Villeneuve taking the other. Although the Canadian entered the final race of the season in Japan with a chance to take the title, his DNF along with Hill's win gave the championship to the Briton. Despite the success and Constructors' Championship, Hill wasn't re-signed and joined Arrows. Heinz-Harald Frentzen was brought in as his replacement.

While the German would only win one race during his two seasons with Williams, Villeneuve battled it out with Schumacher, now at Ferrari, for the 1997 title. Williams took their 100th win at the British GP, however the German entered the final race of the season with a one-point lead on Villeneuve. The two drivers collided on Lap 48, with the FIA later deeming the incident avoidable and disqualifying Schumacher from the championship, while Williams took a third consecutive Constructors' Championship.

The following two years saw Williams fall down the grid as Renault ended their involvement in F1 and Adrian Newey moved to McLaren. The team used Mecachrome engines, which were old, rebadged Renault F1 engines. Ferrari and McLaren battled over the title while Williams failed to win a race, only finishing on the podium three times.

Things didn't improve all that much the following year, this time with Supertec engines, which were rebadged Mecachrome-Renault units. Villeneuve and Frentzen were replaced by Ralf Schumacher and Alex Zanardi, who had won the previous two CART Championships. The German scored all three of the team's podiums, while Zanardi ended the year without a single point. As a result Williams finished fifth in the Constructors' Championship, their lowest finish in the 1990s. Zanardi and Williams agreed to terminate his contract at the end of the season, with the Italian moving back to CART.

BMW Williams

Williams signed a six-year deal with BMW that would see the German manufacturer supply engines and expertise. As part of the deal, Williams were to have one German driver, hence the Schumacher signing. The car was also made entirely blue and white.

Jenson Button replaced Zanardi for the 2000 season, though the first year of the BMW partnership failed to yield any victories. Schumacher did finish on the podium three times to help Williams finish the year third in the Constructors' Championship.

Juan Pablo Montoya, who had spent the past two seasons in CART, returned after Williams ended their arrangement with Chip Ganassi Racing. As a result Button moved to Benetton to make room for the Colombian. Schumacher won three races with Montoya adding a fourth at Monza, though they could have had more it not for the FW23's reliability issues and some pit crew mistakes.

Both drivers returned in 2002 though their only victory came in Malaysia courtesy of Schumacher. It was one of two non-Ferrari wins that season, as the Scuderia won 15 of the 17 races. Williams managed to finish second in the standings, 129 points back of the Scuderia.

Williams had their best title challenge since 1997 during the 2003 season as Montoya and Schumacher both won two races each. However Montoya ultimately finished third in the standings, 11 points back of Michael Schumacher. Ralf finished fifth while Williams beat out McLaren to second in the Constructors' standings.

Montoya announced at the start of the 2004 season that he would be leaving for McLaren in 2005, while Williams had no answers for Ferrari, who won 15 of the 18 races. The team tried an innovative radical nose-cone design, knows as the "Walrus-Nose", however it proved uncompetitive and was replaced by Hungary. Their lone win came via Montoya's triumph in Brazil, which proved to be their last victory until the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix.

Schumacher left for Toyota in 2005 with the team bringing in Mark Webber and Nick Heidfeld. The relationship between BMW and Williams began to sour as well with both sides blaming each other for the team's inability to challenge for the title. Although BMW was contracted to supply Williams with engines until 2009, the detonating relationship factored into BMW Motorsport's decision to buy Sauber and rebrand it to feature the BMW name.

Mixed fortunes

Williams opted for Cosworth engines in 2006 and the team started the season well with both drivers - Nico Rosberg and Webber - in the points for the opening race. However the team suffered through 20 retirements out of 36 starts between both cars. It marked the first time the team failed to finish on the podium since their debut season in 1977.

As a result the team switched to Toyota engines the following year, with Alexander Wurz replacing Webber. The Austrian finished on the podium in Canada, giving Williams their first podium since the 2005 European GP. The team ended the year fourth in the standings thanks to Rosberg finishing with 20 points.

Wurz retired and was replaced by Kazuki Nakajima, who made his debut in Brazil the previous year, for the 2008 campaign. While Rosberg finished on the podium twice, Williams struggled at high-speed corners and quickly focused their attention to their 2009 car, and as a result the team finished eighth.

A return to Cosworth power followed in 2010 along with a new driver line-up. Rubens Barrichello joined from Brawn GP while Nico Hulkenberg was promoted from test driver. The team finished sixth in the standings, though the team managed to take their first pole in over five years thanks to Hulkenberg's effort in variable conditions in Brazil.

Pastor Maldonado replaced the German in 2011, however Williams had one of their worst seasons to date. Their best results were two ninth places for Barrichello and a 10th for Maldonado.

Williams reunited with Renault in 2012 with Maldonado now partnered by Bruno Senna. The Venezuelan took his only F1 victory at the Spanish GP, Williams' first since the 2004 Brazilian GP, however they finished the season ninth out of 12 teams. Valtteri Bottas took Senna's spot in 2013, however the team finished the year with just five points in the Constructors' Championship.

Return to form with Mercedes before more struggles

Having failed to hit the same heights with Renault that they did in the 1990s, Williams signed a contract with Mercedes to supply engines ahead of the 2013 season. Bottas was kept and partnered by Felipe Massa. The Brazilian won pole at the Austrian GP, the only non-Mercedes driver to do so all season, with Bottas starting alongside him. It was Williams' first front row lockout since the 2003 German GP. A double podium in Abu Dhabi helped the team finish third in the standings. The team finished third the following year as well, with Massa and Bottas splitting four podium finishes between them.

Bottas finished third at the 2016 Canadian GP, Williams lone podium finish of the season. The team still managed to finish fifth in the standings, however they scored 119 fewer points than 2015.

The 2017 saw Bottas leave for Mercedes with Lance Stroll brought in as his replacement. While the Canadian finished an impressive third in Azerbaijan, Williams finished the year fifth with 83 points. Things really fell off in 2018 as Williams finished with last in the Constructors' Championship with just seven points, mostly due to a lack of pace.

George Russell and Robert Kubica were the driver line-up for 2019 but managed just one point, while the Briton and Canadian Nicholas Latifi were held pointless in 2020.

			© Williams
	© Williams

New ownership and management

With the team struggling for results on track, Williams were acquired by US investment group Dorilton Capital for €152 million in August 2020. The fee included the settling of debts as well as the promise that the team would keep its UK-base and Williams name.

Although Claire Williams was offered the chance to stay on as team principal, she announced her departure effective after the Italian GP. It marked the first time in the history of the team that the Williams family wasn't at the helm of operations. Jost Capitao was announced as the new CEO in December 2020.

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