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Williams marks 40th Anniversary at Silverstone with historic machines in front of 50,000 spectators

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Williams marks 40th Anniversary at Silverstone with historic machines in front of 50,000 spectators
Jun 2, 2017, 5:50 PM

Williams Formula 1 Team celebrated its 40th anniversary at Silverstone today in front of 50,000 fans who witnessed historic machines grace the Brit...

Williams Formula 1 Team celebrated its 40th anniversary at Silverstone today in front of 50,000 fans who witnessed historic machines grace the British Grand Prix venue.

And JA on F1 was there.

Founders Frank Williams and Patrick Head made an appearance at the event which commemorated Williams' heritage with an exhibition of title-winning and currently-racing cars associated with the outfit.

The Renault-powered FW14B took to the track for the first time since 1992, along with the six-wheeled FW08B and the current 2017 FW40. The 1999 Le Mans 24 Hours-winning BMW V12 LMR was also run with Williams Heritage preparing and maintaining the machines.

“We couldn't have [had] the day without Frank and Patrick here,” said said Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams.

“Frank has made it here. Now that he's not coming to races, to have this is great for him. I don't think he really realised – I think he totally underestimated what it'd be like.”

“He arrived just in time for us to do the photo, so to come out and have that was really special, I don't think I'll ever forget it.”

A group photo with founders Frank Williams, Patrick Head and other notable personalities, and ex-racers such as Karun Chandhok, David Coulthard and Jason Plato punctuated the day as they posed in front of the current Williams F1 challenger, the 1979 FW07 and the FW14B.

“I'm buzzing, it's been a brilliant day,” she continued.

“It's been fantastic to do this but the highlight for me has been the fans. To have 50,000 people here to come and share our 40th anniversary, I couldn't be prouder.

“The guys have worked so hard: the Heritage team and our marketing team. To put this on is no mean feat.

“Obviously we wanted to put on the best show that we could but these cars, as much they're there and they look great as you guys all know, there's a lot of work that goes on to keep these cars running; they're temperamental beasts.

“Particularly the '14B, we wanted to get that out – it hasn't run since 1992.”

Channel 4 broadcaster and racing driver Chandhok took the wheel of the FW40 and the FW14B while current driver Felipe Massa drove the six-wheeled FW08B for a few laps, describing it as, “a really nice feeling.

“When you're driving you don't really think you have six wheels on the floor. It was nice, it has good grip and even the gearbox felt easier than I expected.

“When I was driving it I thought it would understeer; that was just on the first lap because the tyres were cold.”

When asked which Williams car he wanted to drive overall, Massa replied, “The famous 'Red Five' [FW14B]. I think that car would be amazing to drive.”

1992 champion Nigel Mansell, who raced for Williams from 1985-1994 (switching to Ferrari for the 1989 and 1990 seasons), attended along with 1982 drivers' champion Keke Rosberg and 2016 champion Nico with a selection of the cars they comandeered present as well.

Mansell's Honda and Renault-powered Williams were nicknamed 'Red Five' due to his choice of a more ostentatiously coloured number.

“I think this event shows how important the team is. It shows how important Williams is for Formula 1, for the sport,” continued Massa.

“Williams has had more Brazilians racing, driving than all of the other teams, so for Brazilians Williams is very important and I'm proud to be part of this history.”

Massa's Canadian team-mate Lance Stroll added, “I didn't drive any, but looking at [the cars] you really feel the history and the passion,” who is set for his debut home race on June 9.

When asked about his favourite Williams car he replied, “It's the 2003 Montoya [FW25]car.

“That was my time, before that I wasn't born. All the 1992 and '96 ones, I wasn't around, so I know they're great cars but watching that one on TV growing up was special.”

Looking forward to his home race at Montreal, he said, “I feel good. I think our car has been strong in the past, that's good to know. Of course That doesn't mean that will be the case this year but you need to be confident that it will be.

“I think the track looks great – I've never driven there before but I've definitely seen some on-boards. I know my way around even though I haven't driven there.”

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Series Formula 1
Teams Williams