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Williams FW07C #17 F1 Car

Posted by bradiger about 5 years, 11 months ago

Location: Berkshire, UK

(Contact seller for pricing)

Direct from Williams private collection – never previously offered for sale or on the open market.

FW07C chassis number 17 / Cosworth DFV. Driven by Carlos Reutemann in the last four races of the 1981 World Championship with results including a podium in Monza and pole position at Caesars Palace.

Currently being meticulously restored and race prepared by Williams Heritage, using original drawings and technical information from Williams Archives.

FW07C -17 will be supplied complete with:

- A comprehensive history file containing photographs, engineering notes and other historic documentation on a race by race basis from the Williams Archive

- Certificate of authenticity

- Ongoing storage, transport, maintenance and support is also available tailored to the new owners requirements by separate negotiation.


The FW07C was the ultimate expression of the 07 lineage, and chassis #17, with both Reutemann and Rosberg provenance, played a vital role in claiming Williams’ second constructors’ championship in 1981.

FW07C 17Conceived originally in 1979 as the FW07, which delivered Williams’ first GP victory at Silverstone that year, the design was iterated in 1980, primarily to improve chassis rigidity and carried with it the 07B moniker.

The FW07C design team, led by Patrick Head and Frank Dernie, assisted by Ross Brawn and Neil Oatley, was the first ever Formula One team to benefit from the application of a full-time wind tunnel that the team had acquired in the winter of 1979 for the princely sum of £7,000.

The wind tunnel played a decisive role in the FW07C’s competitiveness, as the off-season was notable for the protracted FISA-FOCA wars that abruptly concluded the days before the start of the season and required engineers to make significant side pod adaptations to account for a ban on skirts known colloquially as the 6cm rule – the ground clearance height the cars were mandated to observe.

The C variant was philosophically an iteration of its forebear, with another significant step in chassis rigidity, an improved cooling system and changes to the front wing and cockpit configuration.

Despite the Cosworth DFV giving away an estimate 200HP to the Renault EF1, the season started with a Williams 1-2 at Long Beach by a margin of 25 seconds, such was the aerodynamic superiority of the solution devised by Dernie, ably assisted in the new wind tunnel at Didcot by a young Ross Brawn. The performance, which had been hinted at with Reutemann’s victory in the preceding non-championship race at Kyalami, shocked the manufacturer teams and unleashed a tirade of criticism from Enzo Ferrari, frustrated by the aerodynamic pre-eminence of the so-called ‘Assemblatori’ teams as the Grande Construttori teams could fare no better than 15th place in the first championship race of the year.

Following on from the success of Williams’ 1980 season, the outcome in Long Beach and a second successive win in Brazil gave rise to two expectations. The first – that Williams would be favourite for the title – was quickly dashed when Brabham’s Gordon Murray ingeniously ran a coach and horses through the 6cm clearance regulations by virtue of a hydraulically actuated system to raise and lower the BT49C’s ride height. All of the teams were then forced to develop their own solutions to restore the significant ground effect benefits to their cars, which stuttered Williams’ early championship momentum.

And the second dashed expectation in the mind of Carlos Reutemann was that having supported his team-mate to the world title the preceding year, 1981 was his season and that he had made the necessary down-payment to count on the Australian’s support for his world championship bid. But acrimony in Rio over team orders effectively set the two Williams team-mates at loggerheads for the whole of the season.

Chassis 17 was introduced into service on 30th of August at the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort, by which time Reutemann had built a slender a 6 point advantage at the head of the driver’s table over Brabham’s Nelson Piquet.

Having qualified a disappointing 5th at Zandvoort behind both his team-mate Jones and championship rival, Piquet, Reutemann made it as far as lap 18 before his anxiety overcame him in a lunging bid to overtake Jacques Laffite at the end of the start-finish straight, a move that put both men out of the race and ripped most of the front left wheel assembly from the new chassis 17.

If Holland was an inelegant debut for the new chassis, the Italian GP at Monza was sublime, showing Reutemann’s deft skills and lightness of touch at their very best during practice, honed in over 900 miles of testing on the high speed circuit. But come race day, the Argentine’s confidence was rocked by rain on the start grid having elected for a dry set-up, and he slipped back to 8th place in the early stages of the race. However, on a drying track, Reutemann recovered to fourth, which unexpectedly became third when Piquet’s engine expired on the 51st and penultimate lap of the race. The outcome delivered a finally balanced finale to the season, with Reutemann on 49 points and Piquet just three points behind with just two races to go.

Weather again played a decisive factor when Formula One arrived in Montreal, compounded by the relative performance of the Michelin tyres used by the likes of McLaren and Ligier and the Goodyear-shod Williams and Brabham cars.

The Goodyears had a significant advantage in the dry conditions that prevailed during practice and qualifying, and Reutemann had the better of his team-mate Jones and lined up chassis 17 on the front row of the grid, if having to concede pole to Piquet in the Brabham. But once again, rain on Sunday intervened, the race start having been delayed by several hours due to an absent insurance waiver. The delay cost the Goodyear teams dearly, as the shallow-grooved tyres were unable to displace the rain water that was now falling in buckets. Commentators suggest Reutemann conceded the race before it had started, disconsolately shaking his head in the cockpit before the flag had dropped. In the event, he finished tenth in a race dominated by the appalling wet conditions. Reutemann’s only salvation was that his rival for the title, Nelson Piquet, was also on Goodyears and could do no better than finish in fifth place, leaving the pair separated by a mere point ahead of the last race of the year in Vegas.

Following practice at Caesar’s Palace on Thursday, seasoned observer and journalist Maurice Hamilton remarked, “Usually you get plenty of warning. The timed practice has been under way for 20 minutes or so and he comes by, cruising gently, quite often with his visor raised. He’ll repeat the procedure for a lap or two, rehearsing his lines, choosing a break in the traffic, then – wham – the Williams paints a different picture entirely next time round.”

“Reutemann arrives visibly quicker than either he or anyone else has gone before. If there’s a white line, he’ll place a front wheel inside it at the apex; if there’s a wall, he’ll shave it but not touch it. Braking will be late, but not rushed; the turn in, razor sharp but not violent; the exit, fast but economical. And always, the shining helmet will be erect, no matter what. No slouching, sawing or sliding, Just incredible speed and grace that makes you wait in hot anticipation for the next lap.”

“But the next lap does not come. By now he’s back in the pits and rivals are staring at the lap time in disbelief…”

After two practice sessions, Reutemann had the air of a champion-elect, able to hustle chassis 17 round the new 2.268 mile circuit almost two seconds a lap clear of anyone save his team-mate and it was thus little surprise that he claimed chassis 17’s solitary pole for the championship decider.

However, it seemed that Reutemann’s team-mate, Alan Jones, for whom Vegas would supposedly be a career swansong, was more determined to impose himself on the race and he catapulted his FW07C into the lead, taking Villeneuve’s Ferrari and Prost’s Renault with him, relegating the hapless Reutemann to fourth.

However, the Argentine had a point in hand and could afford to let his team-mate go, so long as he defended against Piquet who was still behind him. Unfathomably, by lap 16, the Brazilian driver was on Reutemann’s tail, and far too obligingly, he left the door open and his nemesis sailed by. While the pit wall furiously calculated and re-calculated permutations as retirements and changes in position intervened, at the flag Reutemann was eighth, Piquet was fifth and Carlos had lost the World Championship by a solitary point.

However, Jones’ victory in his last race consolidated Williams’ imperious constructor’s form in 1981, and the team claimed the title by some margin, having scored 95 points ahead of their closest rivals, Brabham on 61. Chassis 17 had played its part in claiming that silverware at least.

Chassis 17 did however have one final racing appearance to make. Having signed Keke Rosberg to replace the retiring Jones, the Finn tested chassis 17 at Paul Ricard in December 1981, clocking up 1,242 miles in preparation for the 1982 season.

The chassis was not used by the Finn in the opening race of his 1982 World Championship season, but was deployed for the Brazilian Grand Prix in March, and Rosberg qualified third, behind Prost’s Renault and Villeneuve’s Ferrari.

Having raced strongly to second place, stewards disqualified Rosberg in post-race scrutineering, maintaining that both he and reigning World Champion, Nelson Piquet were running underweight cars.

The subject became the focus of much acrimony, with the FOCA teams boycotting the San Marino GP in protest, but the disqualification was upheld by an FIA tribunal and by the fourth race of the 1982 season, the FW07C had been retired in favour of the FW08.

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