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  Article Image gallery (15) FW21-05 Specifications  
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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced in:1999
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:May 01, 2022
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Click here to download printer friendly versionAfter a hugely successful spell as engine supplier, Renault Sport decided to walk away from Formula 1 at the end of the 1997 season. This left long-term partner Williams Grand Prix Engineering with a V10-sized hole in their F1 cars. This was patched by French specialist Mecachrome, who continued to produce the Renault engines under license. For the 1999 season, the engines were dubbed the Supertec FB01 and powered the Williams FW21 chassis.

Along with the Renault engine supply, Williams also lost the services of chief designer Adrian Newey, who had left for McLaren. Among his successors was Gavin Fisher, who was responsible for the FW21. It was a wholly conventional car built around a carbon-fibre composite monocoque. Suspension was through double wishbones and push-rod actuated springs/dampers at all-four corners.

Although built by Mecachrome, the V10 engine used was dubbed Supertec, which was a dedicated company created by Flavio Briatore and Bruno Michel. Neither company had the resources to keep up with the relentless rate of development in Formula 1, so the ex-Renault engines were reliable but could not keep up with the more powerful Ferrari and Mercedes-Benz V10s.

Signed to drive the Supertec-engined FW21 were Ralf Schumacher and Alessandro Zanardi, who were both new to the team. While the Italian driver struggled all-year with the newly introduced grooved tyres, Schumacher had a very consistent season. He finished on the podium three times and finished in the points a further eight times. Williams ended the year fifth in the standings.

As it turned out, the 1999 season was an interim year. For 2000, the British team secured a works deal with BMW, which brought Williams back into contention for victories. Effectively running a two-year old engine, it was impossible to judge how good the FW21 chassis was.

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  Article Image gallery (15) FW21-05 Specifications