The 2017 Spanish Grand Prix marked 40 years of Williams in F1. In 1977 Frank Williams and Patrick Head ran a March 761, driven by Patrick Neve. The Belgium driver finished 12th one place higher than Felipe Massa in this years race.
To be more precise it was 40 years in the current guise of Williams Grand Prix Engineering. This is why the first car was the FW06 as others had received the “FW” naming in previous companies.
To mark the occasion Williams held an open day at the Silverstone circuit on 2nd June. The event was free and popular with Silverstone having to increase the total number to a final maximum of 50,000 people – quite incredible for a single team event.
On arrival I was pleasantly surprised to find that the areas surrounding the stands were full of activities for the masses to enjoy and plenty of places for over-priced food too! Speaking of the stands those on the main straight and down to Club corner were all open, free to enter and pretty well occupied.
It is also a measure of the esteem that Williams is held in that not only did 50,000 fans turn up but also a whole array of past and present drivers including:
- Nigel Mansell
- Riccardo Patrese
- Nico Rosberg
- Keke Rosberg
- Damon Hill
- David Coulthard
- Felipe Massa
- Lance Stroll
- Mark Webber
- Pastor Maldonado
- Karun Chandhok
- Paul Di Resta
- Steve Soper
And on the technical/team side there was:
- Sir Frank Williams
- Claire Williams
- Jonathan Williams
- Sir Patrick Head
- Frank Derne
- Paddy Lowe
- Rob Smedley
- Ross Brawn
- Peter Windsor
But, of course, as impressive as that was what people had really come to see was the machinery. There was plenty of that on hand and running during the day, including this side by side running of both the FW36 (drive by Di Resta) and the FW14B (driven by Chandhok).
Also either running or on display was:
- March 761 (1977, ex-Patrick Neve)
- Williams Ford Cosworth FW06 (1978, first Williams/Head produced car)
- Williams Ford Cosworth FW07 (1979, Alan Jones, championship winning)
- Williams Ford Cosworth FW08C (1982, Keke Rosberg, championship winning)
- Williams Ford Cosworth FW08B (1982, six wheel prototype)
- Williams Honda FW10 (1985)
- Williams Honda FW11 (1986)
- Williams Renault FW14B (1992, Nigel Mansell, championship winning)
- Williams Renault FW18 (1996, Damon Hill, championship winning)
- Williams Renault FW19 (1997, Jacques Villeneuve, championship winning)
- BMW V12 LMR (1998, Le Mans championship winning)
- Williams BMW FW25 (2003)
- Williams Renault FW34 (2012, Spanish Grand Prix Winner)
- Williams Mercedes FW36 (2014)
- Aston Martin Rapide (2015, produced by Williams for James Bond file Spectre)
- Williams Mercedes FW40 (2017)
- Jaguar formulaE (2017, run by Williams Advanced Engineering)
You can see some of these in action in the video below and here.
It was interesting to note what actually ran during the day and what stayed in the pits. The Cosworth powered early cars, such as the FW06/07 & 08, were regularly out on the track going round and round like clockwork. Another regular visitor to the track was the BMW V12 LMR.
The FW14B eventually made it out onto the track and sounded beautiful. I have read elsewhere that this is the first time that the FW14B has run since 1992 but I don’t believe that because there is video here showing Valtteri Bottas driving it in 2013. Other cars that were out were the Mercedes powered FW36 and FW40.
Cars that didn’t run were any of the Honda or BMW powered F1 cars. I am guessing that it was just too difficult to get them started or maybe didn’t have any engines!
Surprising absences were the championship winning BTCC Renault Laguna touring car and the Metro 6R4 rally car both of which have been in the collection in the past.
All in all it was a great day out and brilliantly presented by Williams and a fitting tribute to 40 years of a fantastic team.