The Williams FW07 was a ground effect Formula One racing car designed by Patrick Head for the 1979 F1 season. It was closely based on the Lotus 79, even being developed in the same wind tunnel at Imperial College London. Some observers, among them Lotus aerodynamicist Peter Wright felt the FW07 was little more than a re-engineered Lotus 79.
The car was small and simple and extremely light, powered by the ubiquitous Ford Cosworth DFV.
It had very clean lines and seemed to be a strong challenger for the new season, but early reliability problems halted any serious threat for the title.
While not the first to use ground effects in Formula One, an honour belonging to Colin Chapman and the Lotus 78 (the 79's predecessor), Head may have had a better grasp of the principles than even Chapman.
The car made its debut partway through the 1979 season, and served to make Team Williams a contender for perhaps the first time. It was driven by Alan Jones and Clay Regazzoni, who took Williams' first win in that year's British Grand Prix, before Jones stepped up and won 4 of the next 5 races with the nimble car. Although they lost out to Ferrari in 1979, Williams had established themselves as the team to beat for 1980.
The FW07 became the Williams FW07B in 1980, and Regazzoni was replaced by the enigmatic Carlos Reutemann, and while he and Jones formed a successful partnership, they were not comfortable with each other.
Both drivers developed the FW07 further, working especially on setup and suspension strengthening. The car was now so efficient in creating ground effect the front wings were unnecessary.
The development worked well. Jones won five races in Argentina, France, Britain, Canada and the USA to win his only world championship, while Reutemann won at a wet Monaco. Williams' main challenge came from Nelson Piquet in Brabham's neat BT49, but while Jones won the driver's championship, Williams won their first constructors' championship.
The FW07B evolved into the Williams FW07C for 1981, and this time it was Reutemann who challenged Piquet for the championship, narrowly missing out in the final race, but Williams took home the constructors' championship after four more wins.
Further work was done to the suspension, especially after the FIA banned the moveable skirts needed for effective ground effect. The hydraulic suspension systems were developed by Jones, who hated the rock hard suspension.
During a winter test session he suggested to Frank Williams to "put suspension on the seat", to which Williams replied he should sit on his wallet. 'Yeah,' drawled the tough Aussie. 'Then give me something to put in it!' Jones temporarily left Formula One because of the extremely unpleasant ride the FW07C gave; he later described driving the car as "wrecking the internals".
The Williams FW07D was an experimental six-wheeled test car (4 driven rear wheels, and 2 non-driven front wheels) that was tested by Alan Jones on one single occasion.
The FW07D was a purely experimental car and never raced in competition form.
With the FW07D proving the concept, its unique design was incorporated into the six-wheeled FW08B.
After Jones retired, Williams took on Keke Rosberg in 1982, and his mercurial driving seemed to suit the FW07, which although it was now 3 years old, was still competitive.
After 15 wins, 300 points, one driver's and two constructors' titles the FW07 was replaced by the similarly engineered FW08 from early 1982.
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