None of your fancy labels, no racy images. For the avoidance of doubt, the name proclaimed Williams as a meat-and-two-veg company that went racing through practical engineering. Funded in 1977 by Middle East money, maybe, but this team was British to the bottom of Frank Williams’ teacup.
The very first Grand Prix car to emerge through the doors of the former carpet warehouse in Didcot embodied everything sensible. Because it had to. Williams FW06, from the pencil of Patrick Head, was notable for a straightforward design that, hopefully, would present few problems as the new team settled into the routine of 17 races around the globe.
At the end of the season, Williams had scored 11 championship points, not unreasonable but insufficient for Head, who was annoyed by the teething problems that had robbed the team of better results – including a possible win at Long Beach until the nose wing collapsed. Having designed a solid, uncomplicated racer for 1978, Patrick was about to produce FW07, an absolute classic.
Aerodynamics having become the F1 buzzword, Head was shocked at the inefficiency of FW06 when, for the first time, he made use of a windtunnel. The lessons learned from this, and the dominant form in 1978 of the Lotus 79 with its pioneering ground effect, informed the thought process behind FW07, which was not ready to race until the Spanish Grand Prix at the end of April 1979.
Williams had become a two-car team, Clay Regazzoni joining the driving strength to finish a rousing second at Monaco; some consolation after Jones had led and been denied a win thanks to an electrical problem at the previous race in Belgium.