Williams FW08

Williams FW08

by Luca Dal Monte

The Williams FW08 is the natural evolution of the FW07. Compared to its predecessor, it has a shorter wheelbase and a much stiffer chassis to cope with the higher g-forces resulting from the new regulations regarding minimum ride height introduced in 1981. While it doesn’t reach the dominant position of its predecessor, the FW08 will give Frank Williams a second Drivers’ World Championship title.

Despite retaining the overall footprint of its predecessor, the FW08 is born with originality in mind. The initial idea of designer Patrick Head was to create a six-wheeled car, with all wheels being of small size – four rear and two front – to improve airflow. A prototype is built in the winter. The FIA intervenes, fearing increased costs and chaos in the pits when the car comes in to change six wheels simultaneously instead of four. Patrick Head changes the project on the fly and resorts to more traditional standards.

Williams FW08 Image 1


Keke Rosberg: The Finn is the only driver in modern Formula 1 history to become world champion with just one victory to his name. But the 1982 season, with accidents that cost the life of Villeneuve and the career of Pironi, is so atypical that it created such an odd situation. Rosberg legitimizes his championship with two second place finishes at Zolder and Zeltweg, and two third places at Zandvoort and Hockenheim. Behind the wheel of the C version, Keke wins the 1983 Monaco Grand Prix.

Derek Daly: In 1982, Irishman Derek Daly is in the final season of a Formula 1 career where he wasn’t able to perform at the levels his skill should have allowed. He starts the season with Team Theodore and joins Williams only from the Belgian Grand Prix onwards. His best results are three fifth places at Detroit, Zandvoort, and Brands Hatch, and two sixth places at Monaco and Las Vegas-Caesar’s Palace.

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Williams FW08 Image 2

Head and his deputy, Frank Dernie, go back to where they started. The Williams FW08 is born, which will compete in the 1982 season, the last car powered by the historic 8-cylinder Ford-Cosworth engine to claim the Drivers’ World Championship title, won by Finn Keke Rosberg. The FW08 is also the last ground-effect car to carry one of its drivers to the world title. Starting from 1983, ground effect will be banned.

The Williams FW08 debuts in Zolder in May. Out of a total of 27 races over two seasons (in ’83 with the C version), it wins two races (one per season) and secures two pole positions.

Williams FW08 Image 3