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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced in:1976
Numbers built:3 (Two converted Heskeths and one new chassis)
Designed by:Harvey Postlethwaite for Hesketh
Predecessor:Hesketh 308C Cosworth
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:June 28, 2011
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Click here to download printer friendly versionIn the hands of James Hunt the original Hesketh 308 was immediately competitive in 1974, despite being designer Harvey Postlethwaite's first complete Formula 1 car. With considerable development over the winter, the '308B' became a Grand Prix winner. When Hunt won the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort, Postlethwaite was already well under way designing a brand new replacement. Dubbed the 308C, the second generation Hesketh was ready in time for the final races of the 1975 season.

One of the 308B's most unusual features was the rubber-sprung front suspension. The Aeon hollow rubber springs were added over the 1974/75 winter and were separate from the dampers. Postlethwaite designed the 308C to have rubber springs all around from the get go. As a result they were much more cleanly incorporated as integral units with the dampers. The rubber springs were relatively light and allowed for very easy adjustment of the spring rate and progressiveness by adding or removing the many small sections that formed one spring-element. The front spring and damper unit was mounted vertically in-board and actuated by a rocker, which doubled as the top suspension arm.

The philosophy behind the rest of the design was a little more conventional; an as small a frontal area as possible. This was most apparent when looking at the low nose and the even lower 'side pods.' As on the 308B, the radiators were mounted longitudinally alongside the engine. This further reduced the drag. Not surprisingly, the Hesketh 308C was powered by the readily available and still highly competitive Cosworth DFV engine. In its latest guise it produced 485 bhp and just over 10,000 rpm. The compact V8 was mounted as a fully stressed member of the chassis together with a Hewland five-speed gearbox. The rear brakes were mounted in-board, alongside the gearbox.

Still only wearing the English racing colours of white with a blue and red stripe, the Hesketh 308C made its first appearance in the practice sessions of the German Grand Prix. Hunt gave the car its race debut at the non-championship Swiss Grand Prix at Dijon. He finished a lowly 8th. At the subsequent Italian Grand Prix, the 308C competed its first World Championship race. Starting from 8th on the grid, Hunt eventually finished 5th. He did one better at the final race of the season, the US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen. While he had refused sponsorship earlier, Lord Hesketh was now desperately looking for additional funding to continue into 1976. When he failed to do so, he sold all his assets to Frank Williams. It was a sad end to Lord Hesketh's brief and not unsuccessful Formula 1 adventure. Hunt moved to McLaren where he immediately clinched the title.

With backing from rich Canadian Walter Wolf, Frank Williams had Harvey Postlethwaite continue the development of the Hesketh 308C. He strengthened the tub and suspension and abandoned the rubber springs. The two existing chassis were rebranded 'Williams FW05' and repainted in Wolf's striking dark blue and gold colours. A third car was constructed from scratch later in the season. Despite signing some talented drivers like Arturo Merzario and Jackie Ickx, the overweight FW05 was rarely found in the top half of the field. Ickx was even fired after failing to qualify for British Grand Prix. Despite the disappointing results, Wolf upped his interest in the team and commissioned the construction of the first Wolf F1 car. By this time Frank Williams had long left the team. The 1977 Wolf scored three wins and Williams would go on to become one of the most successful team owners in the sport's history.

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  Article Image gallery (18) FW05/3 Specifications User Comments (1)