5 world champions that drove for Williams

Multiple world champions drove for Williams during their prime.
Multiple world champions drove for Williams during their prime.
Charanjot Singh

Williams has been a permanent fixture in Formula 1. Frank Williams played a key role in making that happen, especially in the 80s and 90s, an era that can be called the heydays for Williams.

World champions would line up to drive for Sir Frank Williams in the hope of driving the best car on the grid. It so happened that even Ayrton Senna, one of the greatest drivers in the history of Formula 1, publicly declared his interest to drive for the team in the early 90s.

On that note, here's a look at some of the greatest world champions to have driven for Williams over the years:

#1 Ayrton Senna

Ayrton Senna once drove for Williams.
Ayrton Senna once drove for Williams.

Arguably the fastest driver to ever step onto a Williams, Ayrton Senna had a stint with Williams that was short and tragic. The Brazilian legend lost his life in a crash in Imola in 1994. But that doesn't undermine what was an admirable relationship the team shared with the driver.

"My father always wanted to put him in his race car.Dad's wish then came true, but it ended in the worst possible way.He never spoke to anyone about it, but you could see the pain in his eyes everytime he thinks about the accident in Imola."Claire Williams.#F1

Senna had publicly expressed interest in working with Frank Williams for a couple of years before he finally had the opportunity to drive the blue-liveried car. Although the team was unable to achieve much with Senna, the combination was touted (and probably was) one of the strongest on the grid at the time.

#2 Alain Prost

Alain Prost
Alain Prost

Alain Prost had a short but sweet stay at Williams in 1993. The French driver, arguably as big a legend as Senna, drove for the first time for Williams in 1993. He used the car to great effect, winning the title.

Post-1993, the professor, after becoming a four-time world champion, hung up his gloves to pave the way for Senna to join the team.

#3 Nigel Mansell

Nigel Mansell drove for Williams
Nigel Mansell drove for Williams

Nigel Mansell is probably one of the greatest Williams drivers ever. He had multiple stints with the team, and was tantalisingly close to winning the title multiple times.

After falling short of the title on many occasions, there were fears that Mansell would end his career without a world championship. However, that changed in 1992 when Williams produced a car that was miles ahead of any other on the grid. Mansell drove that to win his first title with Williams.

#4 Nelson Piquet

Nelson Piquet once drove for Williams
Nelson Piquet once drove for Williams

Nelson Piquet, despite being a three-time world champion, doesn't get the same credit as many other drivers of yesteryears. However, the Brazilian has as many world championships (3) to his name as Ayrton Senna.

One of them was achieved during a somewhat fractious period at Williams because of his rivalry with Mansell.

Nelson Piquet adorava Frank Williams, o revenerava sempre. 🏁😒Nelson Piquet adored Frank Williams, he always revered him.#F1 #FranKwilliams #ripFrankWilliams

Nevertheless, the rivalry doesn't undermine the fact that the Brazilian won his last world championship (1987) at Williams, and was one of the best drivers of that era.

#5 Jacques Villeneuve

Jacques Villeneuve drove for Williams.
Jacques Villeneuve drove for Williams.

For a brief period between 1995 and 1997, Jacques Villeneuve couldn't do anything wrong. The son of the great Gilles Villeneuve, Jacques was making waves outside Formula 1 when he caught the eye of Sir Frank Williams, who picked him up to drive for him in 1996.

There aren't many drivers in the history of F1 who secured a pole position in their debut race. But Villeneuve flipped the form book on its head, and did just that. He would finish his debut season as the championship runner-up before winning the title from Michael Schumacher in 1997.

Villeneuve's career post his championship triumph is nothing of note. But the Canadian during that brief period in the 90s was amongst the best in the world.

Edited by Bhargav


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