F1 News

The day that best sums up Frank Williams' career in F1

The day that best sums up Frank Williams' career in F1

28-11-2021 20:16


From a winning team - even a team that structurally competed for the world titles - to a gray mouse in the middle. Or sometimes worse. Somewhere in the back of the field, with drivers who bought a seat at Williams for a lot of money. Where were the times of Piquet, Senna, Hill? For the born winner Frank Williams it must have been an abomination.

Williams' 70th Birthday

Since their last world title with Jacques Villeneuve in 1997 it hasn't always been simple for Williams in F1. The big brands and big sponsors made their entrance in Formula 1. For a privately managed team like Williams it was financially impossible to compete. Undoubtedly Frank Williams must have reconciled himself for years with the fact that victories would not follow. All the more remarkable was that one day in 2012 in Barcelona. The day that in retrospect completely summed up Williams Racing in Formula 1. The day of the seventieth birthday of Frank Williams himself.

Pastor Maldonado was not a high-flyer in Formula 1. When his colleagues saw the Venezuelan in their mirrors or in front of them, they were always a bit more attentive than other drivers. Maldonado had the annoying characteristic of flying off the track. Often, at the most crazy moments. And in many cases it took one of his competitors with him into the fences. Maldonado was not the type of driver that Williams would put in his team's car in its heyday. But the many dollars of sponsor money that Maldonado brought, Williams simply could not ignore.


Sometimes you have those days when everything seems to work out. This seemed to be such a day. Or rather, weekend. With Lewis Hamilton having too little fuel left in his car after qualifying, the Brit was disqualified. Maldonado - who had already surprisingly qualified in second place - moved up to pole position. But he lost that position in the race after only a few hundred meters, because Fernando Alonso passed him in the first corner.

Maldonado drove the race of his life. Alonso never really got away from him and the second round of pit stops turned everything upside down. Maldonado suddenly led and the chasing Alonso in his Ferrari couldn't get past him. No doubt to his own surprise, Maldonado crossed the line first, leaving the Formula 1 world in confusion. Pictures from the pit box showed Frank Williams with a smile on his face. It was a combination of joy and disbelief: his team was finally back on the top step of the F1 podium, seven years after the last time. We now know that after this 114th victory Williams never won again.


After the race Frank Williams gave a speech in front of the entire team. Exactly at the moment that all team members celebrated the remarkable victory, fuel was released from the car of Maldonado's team mate Bruno Senna. The fuel vapor ignited the supply line, which subsequently caused the entire fueling installation to catch fire. In no time there was a blaze in the garage. Iconic was the image of winner Maldonado bringing his twelve year old nephew to safety from the smoke, while dozens of Williams employees and members of other teams tried to stop the flames. Miraculously, no one was injured.

All in all it was a memorable day. One that summed up the years of Frank Williams very well. It was a time with enormous highs and deep lows. In Barcelona it all came together.

Video player

More videos