The FW07 was Williams Grand Prix Engineering’s (WGPE) first attempt at a ‘ground effect’ car. Following on from the success of the Lotus 79, Patrick Head the teams Chief Engineer since its formation in 1977, took these aerodynamic principles and with the help of a wind tunnel at Imperial College (London) set about honing his design for the FW07. It was the FW07 that would ultimately propel WGPE into a championship winning team in only its second season since the cars debut. Between its first race in April 1979 at the Spanish GP until its last outing at the USA GP (West) in April 1982 the FW07, and its subsequent ‘B’ and ‘C’ adaptations, scored an incredible 300 points, securing WGPE its first Drivers Championship and first two Constructors Championship’s.
The car you see here is #27 Chassis No1 (FW07/01). It first debuted in April 1979 at the USA GP (West) in Long Beach but didn’t take part in the race. By the Belgium GP that year, the sixth race of the 1979 calendar, the FW07 was a front running car as by lap 24, with Alan Jones driving, #27 took the lead of the race. After a further fourteen laps unfortunately Jones had to retire the car having suffered an electrical fault. It was only the second time a Williams entered car had lead a GP. Piers Courage taking the honour of the first race lead in 1969 at the Italian GP in a Williams entered Brabham. It was however the first time a Williams constructed car had lead a GP. It took until the British GP at Silverstone, three races later, for WGPE to secure its first race win. On 14 July 1979 Clay Regazzoni, in the sister car to #27, was victorious after Jones had to retire following a water pump failure. Having qualified in pole position, and in the process setting a lap record, and after building up a commanding lead in the race it was a disappointing end for Jones during what was a glorious weekend for the team. Two races later, at the Dutch GP in Zandvoort, Jones and #27 finally secured the victory they so richly deserved. In all FW07/01 went on to race eight times during the 1979 season and helped secure third place for Jones in the Driver Championship and fifth place for Regazzoni, each driving the car four times. WGPE also finished a highly commendable second to Ferrari in the Constructors Championship.
Since being retired from GP racing by WGPE FW07/01 went on to race in the Aurora AFX Championship. During this time FW07/01 achieved four victories, with Eliseo Salazar and Emilio de Villota securing two wins each. After this stint in the Aurora series and other various race outings FW07/01 was exhibited as part of the Williams Grand Prix Collection, home to the largest private collection of Formula 1 cars in the world. FW07/01, along with its sister car FW07/02, took pride of place in a collection that spans the entire history of the Williams Formula 1 team.
In 2013 the car underwent a complete ground up restoration by John Cadd of JC Historics. John started his race career at Williams in 1979 coincidentally at the same time that FW07/01 made its debut. He was initially part of the test team and subsequently formed part of the race team. John continued this role until he took over custodianship of the Williams Grand Prix Collection which he continued to do so for the next decade. The restoration project painstakingly restored FW07/01, in most cases, with original WGPE parts and when these were not available replacement items were manufactured using original templates or from original drawings. [thanks to Jonathon Williams and Dickie Stanford at Williams Heritage for their invaluable input into this project] The car now wears the exact livery as when Alan Jones and #27 won their first race at Zandvoort in 1979.
Now fully restored and powered by the ubiquitous Ford sponsored Cosworth DFV (V8) engine #27 is back on the track where it belongs so that others can admire this truly historic car as was the case over three decades ago.
Shot as part of a Bespoke photography package.