The partnership sailed into 1981 but Frank was not impressed in September when Jones suddenly announced his intention to quit at the end of the season. It was a hard-nosed lesson in relationships that Frank would carry with him during subsequent negotiations with drivers.
In the meantime, the urgent aim was to find a replacement for Jones. Once again, Frank looked towards the back of the grid for a driver whose desire and promise had not been matched by the machinery at his disposal. He chose Keke Rosberg, a cocky little Finn who, thinking F1 was passing him by, jumped at the chance – and delivered. The 1982 season may have been utterly bizarre, underscored by Rosberg winning just one race, but it was enough to give Williams their second title.
Rosberg would stay for three more years and was joined by Nigel Mansell, a driver whose reputation at the time was scarcely flattering. Once again, however, Frank’s sharp intuition was proved correct as the Englishman now had the equipment to match his aggressive skill, Mansell and his Brazilian team-mate, Nelson Piquet, both coming within a whisker of winning the title in 1986.
Piquet pulled it off the following year but there would be a lull in competitiveness until Mansell’s return from a sojourn with Ferrari coincided with another gem of engineering from the Williams workshop. When he finally won the title in 1992, Mansell suddenly received a Williams reality check as Frank refused to meet his driver’s demands.