This is a review of my day at the 2017 British GP media launch and celebration of Williams F1 40th anniversary. This event was the first time Silverstone and Williams put on this event and it was an incredible success.
The day opened with seeing classic Williams including their first ever car and also the beautiful FW06 and FW07. There was also a rare treat for the fans. The never raced 6 wheel Williams FW08B.
Seeing these cars where they belong was an absolute pleasure. To see them flying around track power sliding through the turns is the only way that any person can truly appreciate the marvels of engineering these vehicles are.
Drivers and Team Boss
A real highlight of the day was seeing drivers who drove for Frank and Patrick throughout their history. It was fascinating to hear from former champions such as Damon Hill, Keke Rosberg, Nigel Mansell and Nico Rosberg among others. They explained why this team is so important to F1 and despite running for over forty years and multiple championships this is still very much a family team. There is only one Ferrari but for Formula 1 there is only one team like Williams. It is purely in this sport to win. It is not in the sport to sell cars or use the sport to advertise its products or drinks. Moreover, the passion of Frank Williams represents what is so great about this team. They do not have the resource of Ferrari or Mercedes but they are loyal to the sport and just to love to race and win.
I was one of the lucky members of the public who got to go venture into pit lane and see the cars up close and personal. It also gave me the incredible opportunity to meet Claire Williams, the deputy team principal of the team. Despite the fearsome reputation of piranha club she was incredibly generous with her time signing autographs, posing for pictures and talking to the fans. Talking with her about the event and her fathers passion for the sport was fascinating and I hope the current crop of F1 drivers and team owners remain as humble as her. The example set, giving back to the fans that invest so much supporting the teams and drivers is what makes Williams F1 stand out from other teams.
In pit lane the cars were on display that showcased the incredible history of Williams. Not only from Formula 1, but it also showcased their involvement in Formula E and with road cars. I cannot overstate how awe-inspiring it is to see these cars up close and in person.
The car that everyone wanted to see was of course Nigel Mansell’s FW14B. This car dominated the 1992 season and boasted some of the most advanced electronics such as active suspension.
The car which had not run on track since 1992 did not disappoint. The first thing that stuck out in comparison to the modern FW36 & FW40 was the sound. Even when the car was at the other side of the track you could hear the pitch perfect Renault engine singing down the straight. In comparison the modern cars barely made a sound. Furthermore, despite their superior speed they did not have the wow factor of the FW14B. With its incredible engine sound, low sleek side pods, low sleek nose connected to the front wing and no ugly turning vanes or barge boards and other aero devices. The FW14B stood out from modern machinery as a true thing of beauty.
The effort by Williams Heritage to get the car running again cannot be underestimated and as a fan I can’t thank the effort by Williams Heritage enough.
Despite Jean Todt’s comments that F1 cannot return to the classic sounding engines, I hope he, the FIA and new owners of F1 recognise that the loyal fans of Formula 1 do not like the current engine formula and a significant proportion of the fans would happily see a return to these incredible sounding engines. Formula E is where Jean Todt should focus his attention on the environment and making cars green. Formula 1 should be loud, sexy where the best drivers in the world go toe to toe in cars that are on the fine line of losing control.
This event was a roaring success. To see some of the legendary cars on track and in pit lane was a dream come true. The organisation and show that Williams F1, Williams Heritage and Silverstone cannot be applauded enough.
I hope that the success of the event leads Williams and Silverstone to make this event an annual event. Year on year Williams could really lead the way in fan engagement. Also the Williams Heritage project will hopefully restore other classic cars until we have the entire fleet of cars available to run on track.
For fans such as myself who struggle to afford the expense of the Grand Prix and have become disenchanted with the sport due to lack of beautiful cars, artificial racing and the sport abandoning traditional venues this event reignited and reinforced my passion for Williams and F1. I just hope that this event is a prelude to the new owners taking the sport back to its roots.
Finally, I would like to sign off again extending my appreciation to Williams, Williams Heritage and Silverstone and my sincere thank you for a brilliant event.