first_imgShare on Messenger Pinterest The 1986 road accident that cost Frank Williams the use of his limbs did not stop him and his equally strong-willed technical chief, Patrick Head, pursuing the winning strategy that brought them both knighthoods. But among the pivotal moments, none looks more fateful than the decision in 1997 to deny Adrian Newey – the genius who designed title-winning cars for Mansell, Prost, Hill and Villeneuve – the slice of the company he felt he had earned, thus opening the door for his departure and further success with McLaren and Red Bull.Many replacements have been tried, but none has come close to matching what Newey brought to the team. After the last race Lowe admitted that more than half the season will have gone before they can hope to improve their performance.So they will arrive this week in Monaco, where Rosberg won for them in 1983 and Juan Pablo Montoya in 2003, without much chance of living up to their own legacy. No one wants to see them follow Vanwall, Cooper, BRM and Lotus into oblivion; apart from sentimental considerations, there are around 600 jobs at stake. But, sadly, the way forward is not easy to see.• This article was amended on 23 May 2018. Tony Vandervell was known as a successful manufacturer of plain bearings, not ball bearings as an earlier version said. Formula One Think of Williams and you think of Mansell dummying Piquet on Silverstone’s Hangar Straight to take the lead in 1987, and sitting it out with Ayrton Senna’s McLaren as the sparks flew in Barcelona in 1991. You remember the tragedy of Senna at Imola in 1994 and Hill’s magisterial performance to take the title at Suzuka two years later.Stack those images up against the sight of Stroll, 19 years old, and Sirotkin, 22, struggling round at the back of the field, whatever fledgling talent they may possess obscured by the deficiencies of a car that the large chunks of the team’s £120m budget contributed by their personal sponsors – in Stroll’s case, his dad, in Sirotkin’s, a Russian financial institution – have been unable to fix.Amid constant changes of technical personnel, not even the arrival of Paddy Lowe, formerly a key man at McLaren and Mercedes, has done the trick. Claire Williams, who has taken over her 76-year-old father’s role as the team’s public face, recently announced that they will not win again until F1 changes its rules to give some help to the smaller outfits. “It’s naive to believe that if you just work hard, you’ll be rewarded,” she said.But she had the grace to accept some of the blame. “There are teams with less money than we have who are doing a better job,” she said. There could be even less when they lose their main sponsor, Martini, at the end of the season. … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we made the choice to keep our reporting open for all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay.The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We hope you will consider supporting us today. We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism that’s open and independent. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Williams at 40: ‘Frank Williams is the closest we have to an Enzo Ferrari’ Sign up to The Recap, our weekly email of editors’ picks. Williams Since you’re here… Share on LinkedIn Facebook Topics Share on Twitter Sergey Sirotkin’s 2018 Williams has so far struggled to be competitive. Photograph: Mark Sutton/Sutton Images/REX/Shutterstock Share on Facebook Support The Guardian Lewis Hamilton’s and Mercedes’ problems not solved in Barcelona Motor sport Formula One 2018 Read more Read more Jones would be followed by Keke Rosberg in 1982, Nelson Piquet in 1987, Nigel Mansell in 1992, Alain Prost in 1993, Damon Hill in 1996 and Jacques Villeneuve in 1997. The last race victory came in 2012, when Pastor Maldonado won in Spain. Their last pole position was claimed two years later by Felipe Massa in Austria, before a race in which he and Valtteri Bottas finished fourth and third respectively.That day alone the two Williams drivers collected 27 championship points. So far this season, with five rounds of the series gone, their successors, Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin, have earned precisely four points, all of them awarded for Stroll’s modest eighth place in Baku.Intrinsically there is no shame in being among F1’s also-rans. If you have a field of 20 cars from 10 unequally resourced teams, at least a third of them are never going to make it on to the podium, even in the most freakish circumstances. This, however, is a team boasting 114 race victories (only Ferrari and McLaren have won more). A team with tradition, character, charisma and pride. A team whose cars have won everywhere that F1 history is made, from Monaco to Monza, from Spa to Suzuka. Share on Pinterest Reuse this content Share via Email Twitter comment A slow racing car never looks good, and the current Williams F1 machines resemble a pair of wounded white whales as they lumber round at the tail of this season’s field, outpaced by ravenous sharks and nimble dolphins. You even find yourself half-hoping that some Captain Ahab is going to come along and put them out of their misery.Two weekends ago their cars could complete the Spanish Grand Prix only 11th and last of the 14 finishers. Yet this is a team who have won the F1 constructors’ championship on no fewer than nine occasions. Sixty years ago the very first constructors’ title was captured by the Vanwalls of Tony Vandervell, a successful manufacturer of plain bearings. His ambition was to trounce the team of Enzo Ferrari, who had once sold him a duff car. Having succeeded, he withdrew. He was followed by two brilliant engineers, John Cooper and Colin Chapman, whose vision of lightweight rear-engined machines remains the guiding principle of today’s designers.Then came a generation of team owners – Ken Tyrrell, Frank Williams and McLaren’s Ron Dennis – whose gift was for management rather than design. They resembled Enzo Ferrari in that they did not design the cars themselves. They were talent-spotters, and they were particularly adept at raising the funds to run their teams.This is the year in which Frank Williams, a racing-mad hustler, should be celebrating the 40th anniversary of his success in finally getting his ducks in a row, of assembling a team built around a brilliant technical director, a potential champion driver, and a sponsor with bags of money. He didn’t win a grand prix in 1978, but it was obvious that he meant business and two years later he saw Alan Jones, his No 1 driver, crowned world champion. Share on WhatsApplast_img

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