Formula 1 -The Wonder Years
The rise and fall of the Williams team, an insiders view into the formula one world. This describes years of the great Williams one of the forgotten great teams of old. Sometimes when we look back in retrospect we realise that the best options at the time do not turn out the best result says Frank Williams. This lens will show the ups and downs of a formula one year and how so much can change in so little time.
The wonder Years are what I call the golden years of Fomula one when the power output of the cars was limited but the rivalry and the true racing passion was still alive. In this time there were a lot of famous Drivers including Schumacher and Damon Hill some of the most talented and skilled drivers of this time.
In 1996 However there was a glimpse of brilliance from the Williams team which was not doing too well the years before. The majority of people give the credit to their 96 success to either one of two things. This was the Driver Damon Hill who was one of the best if not the best in the field at that time, and secondly to the World Championship Williams Renault FW18. The car was powered by a 3.0ltr Renault V10 engine and was heavily inspired by the 1995 Basedon car.
The FW18 featured new protection added due to the FIA regulation rules changing forcing the cars to get heavier and designers to change their cars. This was due to the number of previous accidents that had happened forced FIA to revist these regulations.
The Aerodynamics of the car were astonishing giving them a large amount of downforce. A lot of the critics believed that the car had the most downforce on the field and could out turn anyone in the field. The Ferrari of Michael Schumacher and the well known B196s was not capable of keeping up in the corners.
The car was driven by a fantastic driver named Damon hill and was the most successful car and driver and combination of the 96 field winning 12 of 16 races. This made the FW18 one of the most successful cars of the 90's in formula 1.
Damon Hill was one of the key people in the development of the car making sure that the car was tailored to what he would like. Some say that the car was extra low and this caused the downforce and this was the secret that Damon Hill put into the car.
The FW18 was very reliable and running the V10 engine it completed more laps than any other car out on the field. A lot of critics say that the performance of the FW18 was due to the problematic cars being run by Ferrari and the rest of the field in that year.
Frank Williams however after a great season took a controversial decision to not resign Damon Hill for the 97 season, in my opinion the worst decision made by Williams in the 90's. This started the downward spiral of the Williams team with them narrowly wining the 97 season and failing to win one race in 98. At the same time Hill was dropped Adrian Newey also got put on gardening leave. There has always been friction between Damon Hill and Frank Williams.
Damon hill was finally reunited with the FW18 in 2010 at the Bahrain Grand Prix demonstration.