Frank Williams Racing Cars

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

Frank Williams Racing Cars
Frank Williams Racing Cars Historical logo
Full nameFrank Williams Racing Cars
Founder(s)Frank Williams
Noted driversUnited Kingdom Piers Courage
France Jacques Laffite
Brazil Carlos Pace
Belgium Jacky Ickx
Sweden Ronnie Peterson
Next nameWalter Wolf Racing
Formula One World Championship career
First entry1969 Spanish Grand Prix
Races entered105 (96 starts)
Race victories0
Pole positions0
Fastest laps1
Final entry1976 Japanese Grand Prix

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 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 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,[1] 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.[2] 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.[3]

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.[4] The team fared better in Brazil with Ganley finishing seventh and Galli ninth.[5] 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.[6]

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.[7] The New Zealander also retired at the FX3B's last race, the 1973 BRDC International Trophy, this time with low oil pressure.[8]

Iso–Marlboro IR, FW and first Williams

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.[9]

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,[10] 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.[11] 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.[12]

Merzario and Laffite stayed on for the start of the 1975 season as the team continued to use the FW02 and FW03. The new Williams FW04 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,[13] 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.

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.[2]

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 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


  1. ^ "Politoys Ford". Research Racing. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  2. ^ a b "From Rags to Riches". 8W FORIX/Autosport. December 1998. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  3. ^ Hodges, David (2001). A–Z of Grand Prix Cars. Ramsbury, Wiltshire: Crowood. p. 193. ISBN 1861263392.
  4. ^ "1973 Argentine Grand Prix". Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  5. ^ "1973 Brazilian Grand Prix". Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  6. ^ "1973 South African Grand Prix". Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  7. ^ "1973 Race of Champions". Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  8. ^ "1973 BRDC International Trophy". Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  9. ^ Hodges, David (2001). A–Z of Grand Prix Cars. Ramsbury, Wiltshire: Crowood. p. 113. ISBN 1861263392.
  10. ^ "Grand Prix results, South African GP 1974". Retrieved 21 December 2015.
  11. ^ "Grand Prix results, Italian GP 1974". Retrieved 24 December 2015.
  12. ^ Hodges, David (2001). A–Z of Grand Prix Cars. Ramsbury, Wiltshire: Crowood. p. 240. ISBN 1861263392.
  13. ^ "Frank Williams (b. 1942)". Unique Cars and Parts. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
1968 Deutschland Trophäe

The 1968 Deutschland Trophäe, also known as the Martini Gold Cup, was a motor race, run to Formula Two rules, held on 7 April 1968 at the Hockenheimring, Germany. The race was run over two heats of 20 laps of the circuit, and was the first round of the 1968 European Formula Two season. During the first heat, British driver and double Formula One World Champion Jim Clark suffered a fatal accident.

Clark had also been asked to race at Brands Hatch by Ford, who wanted him to drive their new sports car, but Clark had already agreed to race for his Team Lotus boss, Colin Chapman at Hockenheim.

1969 Australian Grand Prix

The 1969 Australian Grand Prix was a race held at Lakeside International Raceway on 2 February 1969. It was the thirty fourth Australian Grand Prix and doubled as round five of the 1969 Tasman Series. Chris Amon started the race on pole while and drove the fastest race lap on his way to a team 1-2 victory with British team mate Derek Bell. Leo Geoghegan was the first of the domestic based drivers home in third position. Amon also won the 1969 Tasman Series.

1971 International Gold Cup

The XVIII International Gold Cup was a non-championship Formula One race, and also a round of the European Formula 5000 Championship, held on 22 August 1971 at Oulton Park.

Eight Formula 1 cars turned up, with a full complement of F5000 cars making up the rest of the grid. Peter Gethin set pole position for the first heat, which was won by Henri Pescarolo. The grid for the second heat was arranged according to the finishing order of the first heat. John Surtees took the lead from Pescarolo and held it to the end, setting fastest lap, and a new circuit record, in the process. His win and his third place in the first heat made him the aggregate winner, just ahead of Howden Ganley.

Frank Gardner was the highest F5000 finisher in both heats, his performance being good enough for third overall.

1971 Race of Champions

The 6th Race of Champions was a non-Championship motor race, run to Formula One rules, held on 21 March 1971 at Brands Hatch circuit in Kent, England. The race was run over 50 laps of the circuit, and was won by Clay Regazzoni in a Ferrari 312B2.

1971 Spring Trophy

The Rothmans/Daily Express Spring Trophy was a non-championship Formula One race held on 9 April 1971 at Oulton Park.Only twelve cars took part. Team Lotus entered three different chassis types - a 49C, a 72D and the Pratt & Whitney gas-turbine-engined 56B. Local favourite and Formula 3 driver Cyd Williams was entrusted with a

Frank Williams Racing Cars March but crashed heavily during untimed practice and did not start the race.

Jackie Stewart set pole position in the spare car but in the race itself he struggled with his regular car's handling. Pedro Rodriguez won ahead of Peter Gethin, the two of them sharing fastest lap. Stewart finished third.

1972 World Championship Victory Race

The 2nd World Championship Victory Race, formally the John Player Challenge Trophy, was a motor race, run to Formula One rules, held on 22 October 1972 at Brands Hatch, Kent. The race was run over 40 laps of the circuit. Jean-Pierre Beltoise won in his BRM P180. The entry included several Formula 5000 cars.

1975 German Grand Prix

The 1975 German Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held at Nürburgring on 3 August 1975. It was race 11 of 14 in both the 1975 World Championship of Drivers and the 1975 International Cup for Formula One Manufacturers. It was the 37th German Grand Prix and the 34th to be held at the Nürburgring. The race was held over 14 laps of the 22.8-kilometre (14.2 mi) circuit for a race distance of 319 kilometres (198 mi).

The race was won by Argentinian driver Carlos Reutemann driving a Brabham BT44B his first win of the season. Reutemann won by 1 minute and 37 seconds over the Williams FW04 of French driver Jacques Laffite. It was a stunning result for Laffite, his first point scoring finish in Formula One. It was also the peak result for Frank Williams Racing Cars, the first Formula One team run by British team principal, Frank Williams. While it was the team's third podium result, it was the first and only podium they would achieve in one of their own cars, having previously achieved second places at the 1969 Monaco Grand Prix and the 1969 United States Grand Prix with a customer Brabham. 46 seconds further back in third position was world championship points leader, Niki Lauda driving a Ferrari 312T.

With Emerson Fittipaldi's McLaren M23 retiring with suspension damage, Lauda was able to expand his points lead to 17 points with Reutemann moving back into second place.

Arturo Merzario

Arturo Francesco "Art" Merzario (born 11 March 1943 in Civenna, Como) (erroneously registered as Arturio on his birth certificate) is a racing driver from Italy. He participated in 85 Formula One World Championship Grands Prix, debuting on 15 July 1972. He scored 11 championship points.

De Tomaso 505/38

The De Tomaso 505/38 is a Formula One racing car model, designed by Gian Paolo Dallara for Italian car-manufacturer De Tomaso and raced during the 1970 Formula One season by Frank Williams Racing Cars.

The car was uncompetitive on debut, failing to finish or be classified the first four races of the year. Disaster struck at the following Dutch Grand Prix. Driver Piers Courage was killed in an accident that saw his De Tomaso 505 flip and catch fire. The loss deeply upset Williams; the distance the team principal now places between himself and his drivers has been attributed to this event.

The car never managed to be classified in a World Championship race, finishing only twice, in Monaco and Canada, twelve and eleven laps behind the winner respectively.

Derek Bell (racing driver)

Derek Reginald Bell (born 31 October 1941 in Pinner, Middlesex, England) is a British racing driver who was extremely successful in sportscar racing, winning the Le Mans 24 hours five times, the Daytona 24 three times and the World Sportscar Championship twice. He also raced in Formula One for the Ferrari, Wheatcroft, McLaren, Surtees and Tecno teams. He has been described by fellow racer Hans-Joachim Stuck as one of the most liked drivers of his generation.

Frank Williams (Formula One)

Sir Francis Owen Garbett Williams (born 16 April 1942) is a British businessman, former racing car driver and mechanic. He is the founder and team principal of the Williams F1 racing team.

Gijs van Lennep

Gijsbert van Lennep (born 16 March 1942, in Aerdenhout, North Holland) is a Dutch esquire and former racing driver who competed in eight Formula One races. However his main achievements were in sports car racing. He is a member of the untitled Dutch nobility with the honorific, Jonkheer.

Henri Pescarolo

Henri Jacques William Pescarolo (born 25 September 1942) is a former racing driver from France. He competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans a record 33 times, winning on four occasions, and won a number of other major sports car events including the 24 Hours of Daytona. He also participated in 64 Formula One World Championship Grands Prix, achieving one podium and 12 championship points. Pescarolo also drove in the Dakar Rally in the 1990s, before retiring from racing at the age of 57. In 2000 he set up his eponymous racing team, Pescarolo Sport, which competed in Le Mans until 2013. He wore a distinctive green helmet, and wears a full-face beard that partially covers burns suffered in a crash.

Max Jean

Max Jean (27 July 1943, Marseille) is a French former racing driver who won the Formule France championship in 1968. In addition to numerous Formula Two and Formula Three entries, Jean participated in one Formula One Grand Prix, driving a March for Frank Williams Racing Cars in his home race on 4 July 1971. He scored no championship points.

Piers Courage

Piers Raymond Courage (27 May 1942 – 21 June 1970) was a British racing driver. He participated in 29 World Championship Formula One Grands Prix, debuting on 2 January 1967. He achieved two podium finishes, and scored a total of twenty championship points.

Renzo Zorzi

Renzo Zorzi (12 December 1946, Ziano di Fiemme – 15 May 2015, Magenta, Lombardy) was a racing driver from Italy who participated in 7 Formula One Grands Prix between 1975 and 1977.

Zorzi began his racing career in Formula Three in 1972, driving various cars with little success. In 1974 he switched to a GRD, and won the Monaco Formula Three race in 1975. This helped him towards a couple of races for Frank Williams Racing Cars and Wolf–Williams Racing in Formula One, before his sponsorship funds ran out. In 1977 he raced with Shadow, backed by their Italian sponsor Franco Ambrosio. Despite finishing sixth at the 1977 Brazilian Grand Prix and earning a World Championship point, he was dropped from the team after five races and replaced by Riccardo Patrese.

He was indirectly involved in a fatal accident during the 1977 South African Grand Prix, after he retired his car when a split fuel pipe caused an engine fire. While Zorzi dealt with the fire with his on-board extinguisher, two fire marshals ran across the track and one, Frederick Jansen Van Vuuren, was struck and killed by the car of Zorzi's teammate Tom Pryce, who was also killed.

Zorzi later raced in sports cars and the Aurora AFX F1 championship, driving an Arrows.

After retiring from racing, he ran a Pirelli driving school in southern Italy.Zorzi died on 15 May 2015, aged 68.

Tom Belsø

Tom Belsø (born 27 August 1942 in Copenhagen, Denmark) is a former motor racing driver. He is credited as the first Formula One driver from Denmark.

Williams FW

The Williams FW was a Formula One car used by Frank Williams Racing Cars during the 1973, 1974 and 1975 seasons. It was designed by John Clarke.

The car was initially designated in 1973 as the Iso–Marlboro IR and two examples started the season. One was destroyed in an accident at the 1973 German Grand Prix, and a replacement was built. When Marlboro and Italian sports car manufacturer Iso both withdrew their backing before the 1974 season, the two cars were renamed for 1974 as the Iso–Marlboro FW. Another example was completed during the 1974 season. These three surviving cars were renamed as Williams cars for 1975, and carried separate designations: FW01, FW02 and FW03, although the cars were of the same type.

Williams FW04

The Williams FW04 (later the Wolf–Williams FW04) was a Formula One car used by Frank Williams Racing Cars during the 1975 season and Wolf–Williams Racing during the 1976 season. The car was a development of the Williams FW and two were built. Although not a particularly successful car, an FW04 finished second at the 1975 German Grand Prix.

In 1976, both FW04s were sold to Australian driver Brian McGuire, who raced them in the Shellsport International Series, winning one round at Thruxton. He also made modifications to the cars and renamed them the McGuire BM1. McGuire was killed in one of these cars at Brands Hatch in August 1977.

United Kingdom Frank Williams Racing Cars
2019 season


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