WILLIAMS COSWORTH FW06

 

In 1969 Francis Owen Garbett Frank Williams had entered Grand Prix Racing with Briton Piers Courage (from the brewery dynasty) driving a dark blue Brabham Ford BT26. For the following year he switched to an Italian De Tomaso Ford designed by young  Gianpaolo d`Allara (later the head of racing car company Dallara) as a so-called semi-works team.  But Courage was killed in Zandvoort for reasons never been explored until today and De Tomaso retired from Grand Prix Racing again. In 1971 and 1972 Frank Williams entered private March Fords for Henri Pescarolo and later  (in 1972) also for young Brazilian talent Carlos Pace. The attempt, to establish a works team under the name of Williams`s sponsor, Italian toy factory Politoys, failed also in 1972 for the car being not competive enough. For 1973 and 1974  the Frank Williams team  again became a semi-works entry, this time with Italian sportscar manufacturer ISO Rivolta and Marlboro backing. Still with the cigarette brand`s sponsorship the ISO Rivoltas were re-named into Williams Fords for the 1975 Grand Prix season bringing the team the best result in their history with France`s Jacques Laffite coming home second behind Reutemann at the Nuerburgring. Courage had scored another second place before with the Brabham Ford at Watkins Glen in 1969 (when Jochen Rindt had won his maiden Grand Prix). The model designation FW (for Frank Williams) first had appeared at Interlagos in 1974 at the ISO Marlboro driven by Arturo Merzario. The FW01 to FW04 also were the chassis numbers. On his search for financial and technical  support Frank Williams made a merger with the teams of Embassy Hill (who had lost their key personnel in Graham Hill`s air crash) and Lord Hesketh (lack of money) with financial  backing from Austro-Canadian oil millionaire Walter Wolf. The Hesketh Ford 308C, now in  dark blue and gold livery,   were re-named into Williams Ford FW05s and driven by  former Ferrari star driver Jacky Ickx from Belgium and  Frenchman Michel Leclere. But success did not come their way and the team, with Dr Harvey Postlethwaite as chief designer,  did not score a single point. At the end of the year Williams and Wolf separated  being very disappointed. While Wolf won his maiden Grand Prix as a constructor in his own rights with Jody Scheckter in Argentina in 1977, Frank Williams was able to buy a March Ford for Belgian novice Patrick Neve by the money Walter Wolf had bought him out. Williams`intention had only been to reorganize himself and a few people around him  to form a new team. In Didcot near the old university town of Oxford Frank Williams bought a small factory and signed up with  young designer Patrick Head for an average salary. One of William`s friends, Charly Crichton-Stuart, had brought him together with Saudia airlines being one of the sponsors of Neve`s private March Ford.

For 1978 Head designed the first car of his own, the wedge-shaped Williams FW06, a clear and pretty simple design, that was not following the wing car concept created by Team Lotus and copied by most of the rival teams. The small car was equipped with only a few March parts and it was quick from the very beginning. Frank Williams had signed up with Australia`s Alan Jones (former Rob Walker, Hill, Surtees and Shadow), who had won his first Grand Prix at Zeltweg in 1977 driving a Shadow Ford, as the sole driver of the team. Jones was able to attack the established star drivers throughout the whole 1978 season, the only problem of the FW06 was reliabilty and so often pretty simple defects forced the car to stand still before the chequered flag had fallen. Jones scored points three times in 1978, starting very early with position 4 in South Africa`s Kyalami, followed by a fifth place at the Circuit Paul Ricard in France  and an excellent second position at the United States East Grand Prix at the traditional track of Watkins Glen in the State of New York. Jones also drove the fastest laps of the races in Long Beach/USA-West and Montreal/Canada. Alan Jones finished 11th, Williams 9th in the 1978 worldchampionships with 11 points each. Saudia airlines as the title sponsor of Williams Grand Prix Engineering Ltd. had been added by ALBILAD, another big company owned by the Royal Family of Saudi Arabia. For this reason the car officially was named Williams Cosworth instead of Williams Ford. Saudi Arabia considered the United States, being the main supporter of Israel,  a hostile country at that time and so the Ford Motor Company was on their official boykott list.

With the 1979 season  to come Frank Williams bought the FOCA membership for a second car entry from Team Surtees retiring from Grand Prix Racing into the British Formula One Championship. The second car was driven by Clay Regazzoni from the Italian language speaking part Tessin of Switzerland. Five cars of the FW06 type  had been constructed, the last time it was used, was in Long Beach 1979 bringing Jones a fine third place. Then it was replaced by the FW07, a wing car design already raced by some rivals for many months.  Later Patrick Head conceeded, that he had not understood, how a wing car was working, so he had been forced to design the conventional mashine FW06. He had not wanted to risk the collapse of the newly formed team and their business partners looking very promising by making experiments with ground effect not knowing enough about. With Clay Regazzoni winning Team Williams`maiden Grand Prix at  Silverstone in 1979,  after exactly a decade of extreme battle,  one of the greatest success stories in Grand Prix Racing had begun.

Klaus Ewald

 



 

Year: 1978 & 1979 Model Designation: Williams Cosworth FW06 Chassis: Williams aluminum monocoque Engine: Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 litre V8 normally aspirated Gearbox: Hewland FG 400 five speed manual Tyres: Goodyear Sponsors: Saudia (airline), ALBILAD (trade), personal (steering wheels) Designer: Patrick Head Team Principal: FrankWilliams Drivers: Alan Jones/AUS, Clay Regazzoni/CH

 

Technical exclusive images at the 2005 Jim Clark Revival at Hockenheim

 

2006 by researchracing ___Photos by Klaus Ewald, Graphics: project * 2000 _ Grand Prix Journal Online _____ Contents