THE FRANK WILLIAMS TEAM
The recipe for success
THIRTY STARTS, twenty-thrce finishes, seven victories, six second places, six third places, three pole-positions, six fastest race laps, the World Drivers Championship and the World Manufacturers Championship. Those are the bare statistics of the 1980 season of Formula One racing achieved by the Frank Williams team. Impressive enough in themselves, but it is worth looking deeper into the successful season of the team from Didcot in Oxfordshire in the lovely rolling countryside beyond the Blewbury Downs. There are people in the media that feed the populace who think that the driver wins races, and that is all there is to it, but the driver is only a part of the story. Iris the team that wins the race, the driver is one of the employees of the team doing as vital a job as anyone else in the team, but with the added responsibility that heir doing his job in the eye of the public, and his job is the vital last link in the chain; albeit, a very important link. Throughout the past season a feature of the Williams team has been the harmony within its ranks, everyone doing his job confident in the knowledge that everyone else in the team is doing his (or her) job equally conscientiously. This confidence is bred from the very top and permeates right down through the team, whether the people are at the races or back at base in the factory. The two most important ingredients for a successful team are the team owner and the number one driver, and in Frank Williams and Jones you have two people who inspire everyone who works for them, whether they are designing, manufacturing, assembling, or organising. The air about the Williams team has not been one of arrogance, knowing they are the best, but one of confidence that says “We’ll show you who is best”. The system to which they have run their cars this year is to have a group of mechanics looking after the car for Alan Jones to race, another group to look after the car for Carlos Reutemann to race, a third group to look after the spare car or T-car, IT standing for “Training”) and a fourth group to look after the test-car that does all the experimental work between races. These groups of mechanics two or three) are headed by a chief mechanic overall, and at a race they stick with “their” car, rather than “their” driver. If Alan Jones is practising on car number 9 and number 7 is the spare car, then each car is being looked after by its own mechanics and if Alan Jones changes from his own car to the spare car, then he automatically changes mechanics. Such is the harmony within the team that you will sec Jones step from one car to another without even raising his visor or saying anything, and drive just as hard. Each driver has his some attendant engineer, Patrick Head looking after Jones and Neil Oatley looking after Reutemann, no matter which car they are driving, though naturally the two engineers keep in close touch and Frank Williams keeps in close contact with everyone. This interchange and mingling along the team is so smooth and unobtrusive that it could pass unnoticed. If there is an emergency then everyone gets stuck in together, as happened in practice at Zandvoort when Jones crashed in car number 9. The “test” team who were preparing can number 5 back at the factory downed tools, loaded all the bits into a Leyland Sherpa van and hot-footed it for the Zandvoort paddock. Everyone got stuck into building up car number 5, while others
stripped out thc damaged number 9 and while the fmal practice was under way the bent monocoque of 9 was on its may back to Didcot, the Sherpa hardly having had time to cool down. To achieve their 1980 results the team have used six cars and have been fortunate in not having to scrap any of them due to driver error, unlike some teams, and this has not been luck, but part of the overall good judgement in assembling the team, which takes on back to the team owner who has remake the final choice. The season was started with two new cars, numbers 5 and 6, built to 1980 specification, called B, which included improved mottocoque construction, different aerodynamics and developments on all the details of the 1979 cars. Number 5 was built around a 1979 monocoque that had never been used, while number 6 was totally new. The spare car for the South American races which started the season was number 4, more or less unchanged from 1979. As things turned out the new cars did not work too well first time out and Jones raced number 4 in Argentina. This was to prove sake its
last race, and it won. For South Africa a new car had been completed, which won number 7, to number 4 was passed over to the Test and Development team and was not seen in public again. Cars number 5, 6 and 7 became the race team until mid-season, at Brands Hatch, when number 8 appeared. At this potat number 6 vms dismantled and the bare mon000que was sold to RAM Racing as a spare for their team of cars, which they had purchased in ate winter. these being numbers 1, 2 and 3 of the FW07 series. For the German GP another new car was completed, number 9, and this let number 7 go to the test-team to replace number 4, which had been virtually destroyed in an accident at Donington Park while testing some experinvntal tyres. For the Dutch GP number 7 rejoined the race-team as the spare car, and number 5 because the “test car” but as already explained it had to be “Press ganged” into use as a standby. For the final three races of the season the race-team was numbers 7, 8 and 9 and for the two North American races number 5 was taken along as wel..
By the beginning of November the work programme was that 5 was being prepared far some test-work with the latest Casworth engine with a different layout of oil and water pumps, necessitating changing over thy radiators and plumbing, with water on the left and oil on the right, and experiments with the Ferguson Formula differential were planned! Car number 7 was being prepared for a works en, for Alan Jones in the Australian GP, numbers 8 and 9 werebeing race-prepared to start 1981 old a new car. number 10, was being built to augment the team until the FW08 series gets andel way. The wrecked number 4 was being straiOstened out anti built up as an exhibition car. Looking back on the 1980 season we see that the team took part in fifteen Formula One races with two cars each time 130 starts which mesns that the drivers never failed to qualify. and theY finished twenty-three times. Of the seven tidures three were due to accidents and four were mechanical failures. In Argentina RCM… off the road while trying to pass Piquet and filled the radiator air intake with grass. Due to the high ambient temperattire and the Williams heat
exchanger oil cooling system, the temperatures of oil and water were already high enough, and a fast lap to the pits with no air going through the radiator was more than the engine could stand. In Brazil it was Reutemann who again retired, this time through no fault of his own, for as he left the starting grid the cage in the inner constantvelocity joint on the left-hand drive-shaft broke. As Reutemann completed the opening lap to return to the pits, aware that something was wrong in the transmission, all the load was put on the right-hand drive-shaft and by the time he got to the pits the shaft had broken. Although the final CMCOIlle was a broken right-hand shaft, the cause was the failure on the cage on the left-hand shaft. The cause was not discovered until later. In South Africa Jones retired with a mangled up gearbox as a result of losing all the oil from a leak at a joint on the gearbox oil cooling system. After three races the season was not Stoking very good, with one first place (Jones in Argentina), one third place (Jones in Brazil) and a fifth place (Reutemann in South Africa). This last result was not very impressive for it had involved a pit-stop to change tyres and the ceramic “skids” on the right-hand side skirt had worn away. In Long Beach the team reached an all-time low, principally due to driver errors. Reutemann was involved in the melee that Giacomelli caused early in the race and in restarting, the Argentinian let the clutch in violently and another c.v. joint inner cage broke. Jones retired when he tripped over Giacomelli’s Alfa Romeo later in the race. The second c.c. joint inner cage breakage called for some serious investigation and it was ultimately discovered that the suppliers had delivered joints made in England instead of in Germany; both are to the same design specification but the German one is fractionally different in the cage design, though outwardly the two are thc same. When Patrick Head informed the chief engineer of the British firm about the two failures, no interest was shown, su from then on he made sure his supplier got the c.v. joints from Germany, No further trouble was experienced. In Belgium both cars finished, but in Monaco Jones retired with a roughness in the transmission that bethought was the differential breaking up. What had actually happened, it later transpired when the gearbox was stripped, was that a tooth broke off the final-drive pinion. Luckily it dropped clear of the crownwheel so that the bevels went on working but there was a horrid “clunk” every time the space was reached where the missing tooth had been. The next tooth took quite a battering but hung on, though if Jones hadn’t been sensitive to the feel and had gone on racing the whole lot would have broken up. While discussing this recently with Patrick Head on a visit to the Williams factory, he fished out the broken tooth from a cupboard in his office, and later when we were in the gearbox department he showed me the pinion shaft with the missing tooth, and the next tooth looking a bit hammered. The cause of the failure was that the ratio for Monaco was very low (8/35) and the metal available around the roots of the pinion teeth is rather marginal. The only other race calling for this low final-drive ratio is Canada and before assembling the g.rboxen for that race the pinion teeth were “hand” finished to avoid any over-stressed areas. Some drivers could use slow axle ratio all season and never have trouble, but they don’t win races. Alan Jones drives hard, though he is not hard on the machinery, but he does need perfection in mechanical components to withstand the loads he imposes. The team’s fortunes were raised at Monaco by Reutemann
winning the race. The next race was the controversial “illegal” Spanish GP which was removed from the FIA World Championship seems, but nonetheless took place. While leading, Reutemann was run into by Jacques Laffite in his Ligier and the Williams crashed out of the race through no fault of the driver or the team. Alan Jones won the race bathe had to use all his craft and guile for his water temperature gauge was “off the clock”. He nursed the car along, doing a few “slow” laps to let things cool off and then a couple of quick ones in case anyone realised he was in trouble, then some more “slow” ones, and sects. By this time the cars had been extensively modified in detail and the whole of the underside of the engine was enclosed, to improve the under-car airflow. but this was at the expense of higher oil temperature. Consequently the heat exchange system could no longer be used and a normal oil radiator, in the left hand side-pool, was used. The system had first been tried in Zolder and worked perfectly, but the ambient temperature in Spain was very high, plus the fact that Jones was using one of their Cosworth DFV engines that always ran slightly hotter than the others. After race investigation showed the gauge to have been faulty, but even so it was good that Jones was able to drive cannily. The Spanish race was on June 1st and Reutemann’s retirement was the last occasion in which a Williams car failed to finish a race. They ran right through to Watldns Glen on October 5th starting two cars and finishing two cars, and in the last two races they were first and second both times. An impressive record by any standards, and not due to luck. When asked about this reliability Patrick Head was reluctant to put it down to any particular reason, preferring to accredit it to a first-class team of mechanics and engineers. He admitted that engine reliability was down to Cosworth Engineering who service and prepare the majority of their engines, though John Judd of Engine Developments prepared the engine which won the French GP. Gearbox reliability is down to their own mechanics who build the gearboxes from scratch, using a Hewland casing. The total lack of suspension or chassis failures you can put down to good design from the team of Neil Gaffey and Frank Dieurnc, who arc led by Patrick Head, as also is the strength and security of the riveted aluminium monocoque, the nose fins, the rear aerofoil, the side-pods, the sliding skirts and all the other hundreds of pans that go to make up a Formula One car. Nothing happens of its own accord, it all has to be designed, made and fitted. Everything is given a “life” in miles or hours and is then replaced, nothing is left to chance, nothing is skimped, nothing is given the benefit of the doubt. The night before a race everything is checked and double-checked, any highly stressed pan is crack-tested, any concur table item is cast aside and replaced by a new one. Patrick Head pointed out that collectively the team have a lot of racing experience, even if they have not been in racing for very long. They have been running a proven design that they all know well, they have not had their work schedules drastically upset by major catastrophes, “and” he added with a grin, “we’ve got dear old Fmk at the top doing the worrying.” Frank Williams is a natural worrier, his mind is always on what might happen, he is always meeting about ways of avoiding trouble. For ten years he has been playing with Formula One cars and has absorbed a lot of knowledge in that time. He’s seen most things happen and whereas in the past he could not afford to do anything about e, now that he has the immensely
strong financial support of Sandia Airlines and Leyland Vehicles he can atfitrd to do something about the things that worry him.
Achieving the results of the past season has not been cheap, but there is no doubt that his two major sitonsors, along with Goodyear, Champion, Mobil and all the other firms who support the team, must feel it is money well spent. Frank Williams is not spending his money on high living, extravagant habits, exotic cars or plush office suites, it is all going on thc racing team and the future of the team. The factory is equipped with a good range of machine tools and they manufacture more and more parts themselves, while a Vt-scale 100 m.p.h. wind-tunnel, with moving-road working section is nearing complet ion.
There is no question of the team resting on its laurels, they are all set to carry on where they left off. Both drivers have signed on again and all the staff and racing personnel are unchanged his 1981. a sure sign of a happy and successful team.
Analysis of the Williams team cars during 1980:
I., 07 4: Spare car to Argentina ,cd in race by Jones — 1st
Then as “test-car” hi research and development. Severely damaged in crash at Donington Park.
Repaired and resurrected as an “exhibition” car. FWO7B/S: Built around a spare 1979 monocoque. Raced by Reutemann. in: Argentina — Retired Brazil— Retired South Africa — 5th Long Beach—Retired Belgium — 3rd Monaco — 1st Spain — Retired France — 6th Britain — 3rd Germany—led Then as “test-car” for research and
development. Spare car in Canada and Watkins
FW87B/6: New car for 1980. Used in practice in Argentina by
Raced in Brazil by Jones — 3rd. Raced in Long Beach by Jones —
Retired. Car broken up in July and monocoque
sold to RAM Racing as a spare.
FW071317: New for South Africa. Raced by Jones in: South Africa — Retired Belgium — 2nd Monaco — Retired Spain — 1st France — 1st Britain — 1st Holland — 11th Used as “test-car” between British GP
and Dutch GP. Spare car Inc Italian GP, Canadian GP
and at Watkins Glen.
Raced by Jones in Australia.
FW0711/8: New for British GP at Brands Hatch.
Not raced. Spare car in Germany. Raced by Reutemann in: Austria — 3rd Holland — 4th Italy — Sad Canada — 2nd Watkins Glen — 2nd
Five starts, five finishes.
FWO7B/9: New for German GP. Raced by Jones in: Germany — 3rd Austria — 2nd Italy — 2nd Canada — 1st Watkins Glen — 1st
Five starts, five finishes.
Crashed in practice in Holland.
Rebuilt at factory on sax!.
monocoque. Only superficial structural damage. FWO7B/10: Completed November 1980 — Not raced Analysis of team results:
Races started-30 Pole position — 3 (J.”) Races finished —23 ‘Fastest laps — 6(Ion.’ Retirements — 7 Reutemann I) First places —7 (Jones 6, Reutemann Second places — 6 1Jones 3, Reutemann 31 Third places — 6 clones 2. Reutemann 41 Fourth places — I (Reutemann / Fifth places — 1 (Reutemann) Sixth places — 1 (Reutemann, Eleventh places — I (Ones,