19 liverymen and guests , including the Masters Elect of the Distillers and the Coachmakers gathered for an excellent 4 course pub lunch in Wantage in anticipation of a select tour of the Williams F1 Factory Tour, their Museum and Trophy Room. They were not disappointed.
The message from Williams which is now a listed technology firm supplying knowhow to many industry sectors was that racing was at the core of what they do.
Sir Frank Williams and Patrick Head co founded the company in 1977,and it’s the third most successful team after Ferrari and Maclaren with 16 championships to its credit. The cars of famous racers like Nigel Mansell, Jacques Villeneuve , Alan Jones, and Alain Prost are proudly displayed in the Museum together with innovations like 6 wheel GP cars , quickly outlawed by the FIA . The team has overcome the tragic death of Senna at Imola in 1984 in only his third race for Williams and boasts every race car up to 2012 in the Musuem.
The Trophy Room displays all the race wins, a F1 Race simulator, and helmets, race clothing and equipment all immaculately labelled. The highlight was when the guide,Simon, brought out the steering wheel of Valteri Bottas and explained all the switches and buttons on it, all operated through thick driving gloves!
Today the team struggles against teams with huge development budgets ,four times the annual £100m that Williams spends, and is hoping to finish 4th in the constructors championship. The stunning WO16 car decked in white to show off the famous Martini Racing stripes of its lead sponsor, sat magnificently in the ‘build ‘ area of the factory and we were treated to a glimpse of the heavy investment going into its own car production. Williams is one of the few teams to build its own gearboxes, and has one of the few wind tunnels for testing.
Many thanks to Paul Finch for organizing the logistics and the pub, and to Martini Racing (Bacardi)for permission to have the visit, a great way to round off a successful year for the Club.
– Chris Searle