It was assembly Head that modified all that – and Patrick noticed a hearth in his new good friend that satisfied him to wager the whole lot on Frank for what needed to be the final Williams F1 throw of the cube. My, the way it paid off.
Head overtly admits that his FW07 was a, ahem, homage to the Lotus 79 that swept to the 1978 titles with Mario Andretti and Ronnie Peterson. Now, as Colin Chapman pushed the ground-effect aerodynamics that his crew had pioneered to the sting and over it with the Kind 80 ‘wing automotive’ flop, Head watched, discovered and produced one thing near what Lotus had moved away from – however engineered to his personal exacting requirements. The FW07 wasn’t progressive, but it surely was the near-perfect expression of the ground-effect era. And Jones beloved it.
The penny dropped when he examined it away from prying eyes at Ontario Motor Speedway after Williams had raced the FW06 on the Lengthy Seaside GP in April 1979. This factor had a lot grip. Now Jones understood what Andretti meant when he mentioned his Lotuses have been “painted to the highway”. Teething troubles held Williams again at first, however by the summer season at flatout Silverstone, the FW07 was able to make its mark. Jones took pole place, by 0.6sec from Jean-Pierre Jabouille’s turbocharged Renault. Now all eyes down the pit lane turned to Frank: who was the w***er now?
A wrinkle in Williams’ historical past means it was Clay Regazzoni, not Jones, who claimed that first win. A brand new weld on a water pump cracked, the following leak inflicting a piston failure within the Aussie’s Cossie. However once more, right here was serendipity. ‘Rega’ was well past his prime and hadn’t received a GP since 1976, but right here he was delivering the breakthrough. “Bravo, Frank,” he purred within the midst of the gathered press because the boss savoured his sweetest second.
After Silverstone, Jones swept 4 of the subsequent 5 races, solely his sluggish begin to the yr and a convoluted factors system standing between him and a shock world title that went as a substitute to Ferrari’s Jody Scheckter. However Williams was up and working, its energetic chief pushing from the entrance. Even a neck-breaking automotive accident in 1986 couldn’t maintain Frank again. He was a power of nature – and grand prix racing won’t ever see his like once more.