- Founded: 1977
- Based: Grove, England
- World Constructors' Titles: 9
- World Drivers' Titles: 7
- Grand Prix Victories: 113
- Pole Positions: 125
Known as a true racer, Williams has been involved in Formula 1 since the 1960s. But he did not find success until he set up his team in 1977 along with the young engineer, Patrick Head. Williams is known as one of the most determined team directors and is only in it for the sport, not only for the money. In 1986 he had a car accident and has been confined to a wheelchair since then with no use of his legs and little use of his arms and hands. But as a sign of his determination, his team won the constructors' title that same year, and both the drivers and constructors' titles the following year.
As much as Frank Williams is known as a true racer, Head, the team's founding engineer, is known as a pure racing engineer. His love of engineering not only ensured much of the team's early success, but Head is also recognized as one of the top engineer mentors in the sport, helping to launch or develop the careers of several other engineers of note. Both he and Frank Williams, however, are also known to place the value of drivers well below that of the car and its engineering in the ingredients of what makes for a winning team.
A Brief History:
The team's first victory came at the British Grand Prix of 1979, with Clay Regazzoni driving. Its first world titles came the following year with Alan Jones driving. It won either a constructors' or drivers' title in 1980, 1981, 1982, 1986 and 1987. But the team truly dominated the following decade, winning five constructors' titles and four drivers' titles in 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996 and 1997. Its success in the 1990s was also largely due to the great Renault engine that supplied its power, and which also won two world titles for Benetton and Michael Schumacher in 1995.
More Recent Times:
After Williams won its final world titles in 1997, with Jacques Villeneuve driving, the team went through a couple of cycles of rebuilding and retooling, as it first lost the support of the Renault company, which withdrew from Formula 1, and then had to rebuild with the arrival of BMW as its new engine supplier. But the team also lost its key designer of the 1990s, Adrian Newey, who left to join McLaren, and at the same time Williams ceased to win.
The BMW Years:
BMW stayed with Williams from 2000 to 2005, but finally withdrew from the team to set up its own team in 2006. Although the team won 10 races during the BMW years, and finished second in the constructors's series in 2003, it could never quite make it back to the highest level. Although, the cohabitation with BMW was often prickly, the failure to return to the highest level of the sport had as much to do with the winning machine of Ferrari and Michael Schumacher - who won all titles from 2000 to 2004 - as it did with any failure on the part of the Williams team to produce a great car.
After a year in limbo with a Cosworth engine and no victories and its worse championship finish in decades - eighth - Williams begins the 2007 with a new engine provider in Toyota. However, as Toyota also has its own team in the sport, it remains to be seen how committed the Japanese company will be to supplying a winning engine to another team.