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  Article Image gallery (20) FW07D/16 Specifications  
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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced in:1982
Numbers built:2
Predecessor:Williams FW07C Cosworth
Successor:Williams FW08 Cosworth
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:October 14, 2014
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Click here to download printer friendly versionHaving struggled for survival in Formula 1 for almost a decade, Frank Williams finally received sufficient funding to properly develop and build a top runner. Of the many cars that he entered since 1969, several bore his name, but they were rarely competitive in large part due to a lack of money. By attracting money from the Middle East with sponsors like Saudi Air these problems were solved. In 1977 Williams employed promising young engineer Patrick Head to design a new car for 1978. Dubbed the FW06 and powered by the familiar Cosworth V8 engine, it was used by Alan Jones and Clay Regazzoni in 1978 and in the opening races of 1979. Several points were scored with a second in the US GP by Jones as the best result.

While the FW06 proved quick straight out of the box, it was rendered virtually obsolete when the ground-effects Lotus 79 debuted. By using large underbody 'venturis' and moveable skirts down the side of the car, a low pressure area was created under the Lotus, which produced a massive amount of downforce without any drag penalties. With the FW07 launched in the spring of 1979, Williams also jumped on the ground-effects bandwagon. The monocoque was constructed from an aluminium honeycomb, making it considerably stiffer than that of its predecessor. The suspension was conventional by double wishbones, but with very stiff springs to cope with the huge increase in downforce. The package was rounded off by the Cosworth DFV engine.

Even though the car arrived too late to be a force in the championship, and minor problems and accidents hampered the FW07s early in its career, it was immediately obvious that Williams had produced a winner. This promise was fulfilled when Regazzoni scored Williams' first victory in British Grand Prix. Jones continued the good form by winning the German, Austrian, Dutch and Canadian Grands Prix. In this season Lotus struggled and it looked like Head and Williams had moved a step ahead of everybody else in the ground effects territory. People often say that imitation is the biggest complement; Head received several in the following season as many of the smaller British teams copied the basic design of the FW07, but none were executed as well as Williams' original.

Williams was the team to beat in the second half of the season and finished second in the constructor's championship. It was quite remarkable to note that a Williams had never lead a lap before the season in which they scored five victories. Head did not sit still and further developed the underbody and monocoque of the FW07 and Williams started the 1980 season with the FW07B. Regazzoni was replaced by Argentinian Carlos Reutemann. The Jones, Reutemann driver pairing won six Grands Prix and Jones took the driver's championship with his team-mate finishing third. Not surprisingly Williams was crowned constructor's champion at the end of the 1980 season having scored almost three times as much points as the nearest rival.

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  Article Image gallery (20) FW07D/16 Specifications