A fan’s review of the Williams motorhome from the recent Autosport International show. Reproduced with permission from Stuart Lunn.
I’m just back from Autosport International, where courtesy of Mr Andrew Hooper, my family and I had a family guided tour of Williams Motorhome building.
Williams had primary position at one end of the huge show hall, with 9 different Williams Cars outside.
There was Alan Jones FW08. Keke’s championship car, red 5’s for Mansell with the Honda FW11 and his championship 1992 car. Damon’s 1996 car was present, as was Juan Pablo Montoya Monaco winning 2003 car, Pastor’s 2012 Spanish winning car, and last years FW37. Plus the Jag from James Bond.
Huge crowds were present, and the team had lots of staff at the external barriers showing things like steering wheels and giving out photos and statistics cards.
There were more people wearing Williams kit at the show than any other team. The team also has a stand selling kit.
This is all the prelude to entering the Motorhome building.
We arrived as advised at 2pm, and we’re presented with Williams Lanyards with vip guests tags on it and ushered up the ramp.
The dual pair of sliding glazed entry doors were set to open, complete with soft blue mood way finding lighting around them.
Upon entry there is a reception desk to your right, and a staircase to the second floor to your left. Our host explained etiquette is such that you do not approach celebrities or stare at them. At that point I hadn’t seen any. Anyway I looked ahead and there was a small table on the right centre of the room and Rob Smedley was having lunch talking to a journalist. On the biggest bench table was Felipe Massa having lunch, with a small group including children (not his).
This ground floor area is to about 2.8m floor to ceiling height, with a lino tiled floor and very white gloss ceiling finishes with recessed spots to give good lighting. The walls are white and all the furnishings were modern high gloss white tables, and a mix of white and bleat plastic chairs. All v modern. Towards the rear was a white counter with a funky Italian coffee machine, snacks and a large TV screen which had all the logos of Williams partners on it skin to the modern ‘Windows layout’ lots of flowers on the counter and the front wall of the counter had the main Martini logo on it.
On this floor were two management offices on the right hand side. First for Sir Frank, Frank Williams nameplate on the door. We entered and again he had a white desk with a white business chair either side of it and the Financial Times on the table. There was a colour picture of Claire sat on his knee whilst he was being pushed in a wheelchair. Otherwise the room was v minimalist. One TV screen in the office. The next office was Claire’s, v similar on approach. My children were allowed to sit at Frank’s desk! Clare was at the show yesterday. Frank didn’t attend but the team said he is in excellent health. Nb I didn’t realise Patrick head got a knighthood.
At the rear is an exit to a small kitchen prep area which we didn’t see.
Going upstairs the second floor is a mix of v high end restaurant and management and driver offices. In the centre were 8 number 4 person place setting tables, each with a blue grey soft upholstered chair. Beautiful flowers were in each bowl. Again on the back wall was a counter, again with the TV screens. This area was more refined, and our host explained they often serve 7 course taster menus here, again this was v modern decor, reflecting the teams wish to seem modern and inventive, not a tired old grandee team. On this floor was Mike O’Driscoll’s office which we were not allowed in and a marketing office (ditto). They have two meeting rooms off this area, the first titled Top Gun with stencils of two of the aircraft from Top Gun on the wall. The other was the Gladiator room, again with stencils. Think of the little private meeting room you see in any office. On the right hand corner were two rooms; one for each of Felipe and Valtteri. Think of a children’s bedroom size in a modern house, each room had a small annexe with a small shower cubicle and toilet. Not a huge amount of room, again these areas were v gloss white in imagery.
On the second floor on one of the walls were about 8 A4 sized framed black and White photos of Frank pre-accident. The classic one of him in his running t shirt, the one of him and Patrick in front of the 1980’s truck unloading an FW08 at the factory etc. The one with Frank and Alan Jones etc.
You then step into a balcony area at the front at second floor set above the ground floor main entrance. In this area they had a magnum ice cream freezer (Unilever being a team sponsor via Rexona), and pride of place in this area were three black and white photos of Lady Virginia. Such a likeness to Claire.
From this you then climb a stairs to the terrace area. Change in mood when you get into the open roof area. It’s all yacht decking and wooden tables. V informal. This area has a signature Martini bar at the back and several Martini poster frames. We could look down and see the 9 Williams cars below.
On the way down on the staircase between ground and first floor are 7 black and white photos grouped together; one of each of our world champion drivers.
I have to say the inside of the Motorhome is incredibly well designed. They have clearly had a great interior designer with emphasis on consistency. The black and white photo areas are brilliant against the gloss finishes and high lighting of the rooms.
Everything about this reeked of class, organisation and efficiency. Throughout the building were a variety of modern floral displays, great touches.
The guy showing us around says they send 13 truckies to put this up, basically it’s 10 v posh portacabins that slide/bolt together as a system. Great lighting and air con systems make you believe you are in a normal permanent high end building.
On my way out I had a chat with Dickie Standford. He had just finished tending the FW078 that Felipe drove in the live action arena. We had about 5 minutes of small talk. He’s still in touch with Juan Pablo and sees him occasionally. Pastor drove a great race in Spain 2012 that “day Pastor listened to and did everything his engineers asked of him”. We talked about the ’86 Honda powered car. He said they have only two engines one is missing some of its systems. Apparently Honda scrapped every engine from Mclaren and Williams at the end of the era. Apparently the sponsorship guru Zac Brown wants to borrow the Williams engine, take all the measurements to try to build replica parts to get one of these cars running again.
To the side of the Williams unit was both the Sky Sports and Autosport stages. I saw both Damon Hill and Felipe extensive interviews.
Can I now say to Andrew Hopper. Thank you very much for putting yourself out for organising our visit. Incredible. It’s been nearly 20 years since I was in a F1 paddock and to me visiting Williams Motorhome was a holy grail target.
To Williams. Thank you. You came across as the fans friend at this show. Everybody loved your approach! Thank you.
Nb the Williams guy said probably Mclaren will follow Williams lead and erect their home next year. Good on the sports stalwarts for doing this.