Williams Racing is a British Formula One Motor racing team and constructor founded by Frank Williams and Patrick Head in 1977. The team’s first race was at the 1977 Spanish Grand Prix and the first win was at the 1979 British Grand Prix. At the 1997 British Grand Prix, Jacques Villueneve would score the team’s 100th race victory making Williams only one of the four teams in Formula One with more than 100 race wins to their name. Multiple World Champions like Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansel, Nelson Piquet, and more have raced for Williams in the 80s and 90s. It also holds the distinction of having no driver managing to win more than one title with the team.
Williams in its illustrious past has worked successfully with many engine manufacturers including Renault, Honda, Mercedes, BMW, and Toyota. Achieving great success, especially with Renault in the 1990s.
In May 2020, Williams announced that they were seeking buyers for a portion of the team due to poor financial results in 2019. By 21 August 2020, Williams was acquired by Dorilton Capital. Claire Williams and Sir Frank Williams stepped down from their management roles on 6 September 2020 with the 2020 Italian Grand Prix being their last time in their respective positions.
Ford-Cosworth engines (1977–1983)
Williams had humble beginnings in 1977 as the team started gingerly in Formula One with a single car driven by Alan Jones. The team would make improvements in 1978 as Alan Jones would be able to snatch the first podium for the team at the US Grand Prix. The team would finish their second season in Formula One in 9th place. 1979 would mean further improvements to the team, Williams would field two cars, notch up multiple victories to finish the season as the closest challengers to Ferrari.
The team would hit a jackpot in 1980 when Alan Jones, partnering with Carlos Reutteman would win the Championship and Williams would win their first constructors championship by beating Ligier. 1981 would be more of the same for Williams as the team would yet again win the constructors championship by beating Brabham. Williams would pick up another driver’s title this time with Keke Rosberg in 1982 although they would finish the constructor’s championship down in 4th.
With the absence of turbo-charged engines at the back, their cars Williams suffered yet again throughout the season and would finish 4th yet again in the standings with only a single victory to their name.
Honda engines (1984–1987)
Williams would move to the Honda engines in the 1984 season but with an imbalance car, they were unable to make an impact and finished the season only 6th in the standings with only 1 win on the board. In 1985 the team would make improvements and win 4 races in the season, two for Keke Rosberg and two for Nigel Mansell. They’ll end the season in an improved third place compared to the last few seasons.
The 1986 season would see Williams win as many as 9 races with Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet at the wheel to comfortably clinch the championship. Nigel Mansell however would fail to secure the title for Williams after he suffered a tire blowout.
Williams would steamroll the competition in 1987 as they ended up winning both the titles with Nelson Piquet winning the driver’s championship.
Judd engines (1988)
With the Honda partnership ending in 1987, Williams suffered a huge loss of form in 1988 as they moved to Judd’s naturally aspirated engines. The team would not be able to win any races this season and tumble down the grid in standings to Seventh.
Renault engines (1989–1997)
Williams partnered with Renault in 1989 to begin its most successful engine partnership. Williams started to cut back on the gap to the teams in front as Williams finished the season second in the championship. In 1990, although the team would win a race it would fall down the standings to fourth.
In 1991, Williams started charting its way back to the front. Nigel Mansell was back behind the wheel and the team ended up finishing second in the standings, this time closing the gap to the leaders Mclaren.
In 1992, Williams set new standards of domination as driver Nigel Mansell alone would win 9 races in the season and seal both the drivers and constructors championship for the team.
In 1993, Alain Prost would replace Nigel Mansell and take advantage of the dominant Williams car to win the title and help the team win the constructors championship. 1994 would feature Williams hiring Ayrton Senna for the season and his subsequent tragic death. Williams’s second driver Damon Hill would take the fight to Michael Schumacher but lose out on the championship. Williams however was still able to win the constructors championship.
In 1995, Williams would lose out to Benetton in the constructors and finish second in the championship. In 1996, Williams would again make a return to the front by winning both the drivers and constructors title. They would do the same in 1997 by winning both the drivers and constructors title. The team would be in for a rude shock in 1998 as the team would lose both Adrian Newey and Renault engines. They would have to make do with the rebranded mecachrome engines in 1998 and ended up finishing 5th in the standings. Things would not improve for Williams as the team would fit supertec engines for the 1999 season and suffer from the same lack of competitiveness.
BMW engines (2000–2005)
Williams was finally able to secure a long term association with BMW engines in 2000. The season was a learning curve for the partnership as it saw the team improve to third in the standings with three podiums. Williams made further improvements in 2001 and won 4 races throughout the season, however, Williams would still end up in 3rd in the standings. In 2002, Williams would only win a single race but improve their position in the standings to second. In 2003, Williams came close to winning both the titles but would ultimately lose out in the end to Michael Schumacher and Ferrari. In 2004, Williams would drastically fall back in competitiveness to finish fourth in the championship. For 2005, Williams would have a new line up for the season with youngsters Mark Webber and Nick Heidfeld taking the reins. The team would suffer from a lack of competitiveness yet again and lose the BMW partnership by the end of the season.
Cosworth engines (2006)
Williams had to move to Cosworth in 2006 and suffered a Torrid season with a serious lack of reliability. The team had 20 retirements out of 36 race starts and finished the season in 8th.
Toyota engines (2007–2009)
Williams would partner with Toyota for the 2007 season. The team would see a marked improvement as they end the season with a podium and 4th position in the standings.
In 2008, although Williams was able to snatch two podiums, the team ended the season in 8th. 2009 saw better pace from Williams but couldn’t make marked improvements in the standings.
Return to Cosworth engines (2010–2011)
The return to Cosworth engines for the 2010 and 2011 seasons did not prove as fruitful for the team. Although they were able to snatch a pole position in Brazil in 2010 but didn’t have much to write about during their partnership. Williams would announce a switch to Renault engines in 2012, hoping to rekindle the form the partnership enjoyed in the 1990s.
Return to Renault engines (2012–2013)
Williams’ partnership with Renault did result in some success in 2012 as the team won their last Grand Prix with the Renault engine. But a dismal 2013 season would mean Williams moved to Mercedes for the 2014 season.
Mercedes-Benz power units (2014–present)
The switch to Mercedes power units saw a revival of form for Williams. The team would finish the championship in 3rd and have multiple podiums and a pole position by Felipe Massa at the Austrian Grand Prix. The 2015 season would see Ferrari leapfrog Williams but Williams would still be able to maintain 3rd position in the standings. The team would see a continuous decline in the pecking order from here onwards. The 2016 and 2017 seasons would see Williams finishing lower in the standings as compared to their previous seasons. 2018 saw a further decline as the team would feature Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin as their drivers. The team’s situation and results would only get worse as the team would be unable to score even a single point in the 2020 season. On 21 August 2020, Williams was acquired by US investment group Dorilton Capital for €152 million. In December 2020, Williams announced Jost Capito will be joining Williams as the new CEO, with Simon Roberts now becoming the official Team Principal and reporting to Jost Capito.
The team would have George Russell and Nicholas Latifi driving for them in the 2021 season.
Some of the prominent drivers to have driven for Williams include Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, Nigel Mansell, Jenson Button, Nelson Piquet, and many more.